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How to recruit fundraisers in 2022

Melanie May | 9 December 2021 | News

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This year has been quite different to 2020 for fundraiser recruitment. After the pandemic’s impact on fundraising led to furloughing and redundancies across many organisations, the exiting of lockdowns and tentative steps back to normality seen in 2021 has meant growth in several areas, including events, digital, and major donor fundraising.

These areas have really come to the fore with the crisis necessitating the acceleration and growth of digital uptake, seeing most events go virtual before starting to open up again this year, and, in the case of major donors, meaning financial struggles for some people but increased income for others.


Why your supporters are wealthier than you think... Course by Catherine Miles. Background photo of two sides of a terraced street of houses.

Shona Marsh, CEO of Utopy comments:

“After the hiring pauses seen in 2020, 2021 has understandably seen a rebound in roles being advertised. In the more recent months, there has been a growth in events fundraising roles. These are sometimes hybrid, as is our new world, with traditional and digital events being referenced.”

But while many charities are now actively seeking fundraisers in these and other areas, there are challenges.  Not only are there more vacancies than fundraisers looking for new roles in some disciplines, meaning strong competition for talent, but job hunters also have different criteria than they might have done pre-pandemic.

Simon Callaghan, Director – Fundraising Appointments, Peridot Partners, says:

“The recruitment market remains incredibly competitive for charities looking to recruit fundraisers. Major donor fundraising remains a very busy area for vacancies, as does trusts and foundations given the amazing support many funders showed to charities throughout lockdowns.


“Digital is a big growth area, with some huge success in virtual mass participation events over the last 18 months, while the continued focus on major donor fundraising can be linked to the increase in individual wealth through the pandemic and the opportunities that presents, alongside its impact on some charities who are now looking to setup major donor income streams for the first time.”

Recruitment tips

Here are some tips then for charities recruiting fundraisers as we move forward into 2022.

Firstly, the recruitment process should be a priority with adequate time and resources spent on it. If you’re using a recruiter, it’s important to take the time to brief them properly, and to be realistic with them, as well as yourselves, about what you need.

It’s also critical to focus on getting the job ad right so that it both accurately describes the role and showcases what’s different about it. Bearing in mind that it really is a jobseeker’s market at the moment, ask yourself why someone would not just want the job on offer but why they would want to work for you. Salary and benefits are important of course but what else are you offering and are you getting that message across? Flexible working in particular, for example, has become really important.

Polly Symondson, Founder of Polly Symondson Recruitment and Co-founder of Fundraising Jobs says:

“If you’re thinking that candidates are going to be queuing up at your door they’re not! There are fewer jobseekers right now and those that are looking want to know about workplace culture, how you look after your staff’s wellbeing and what flexibility you offer. If you are offering flexible working be clear as to what that means – will you reimburse travel and can a candidate really be based anywhere? How many days per week/month to attend office/meetings? Include all of this information upfront so candidates can make informed choice about whether or not to apply.”

Dagmara Wolosiuk-De Paula, Senior Fundraising Consultant at Harris Hill agrees:

“Salaries need to be competitive but the far bigger factor right now is flexibility. Nobody wants to go back into the office five days a week, so you’ll really struggle to fill the role if it’s a requirement. Most organisations are offering some degree of flexibility, but if you can be flexible about when people work, as well as where, you’ll have a real advantage.”

Recruitment specialists say that quite often job descriptions and criteria for applicants are not revisited enough and that this should be done on a semi regular basis. It should also include looking at the ‘essential’ criteria you list in an ad or job description to ensure it really is essential and going through your job description to make sure what’s on it is really necessary.

Lack of diversity for one is still an issue so tips to improve this include bringing in an expert who is successful in this area, and taking a close look at your job descriptions, job packs, and application forms to ensure they’re actually going to help you bring in the change you’re after and won’t inadvertently exclude people.

Martha Awojobi, CEO of JMB Consulting says:

“My advice to organisations who are trying to bring in People of Colour is to bring in an expert to work with who is successful at finding and supporting PoC candidates, most of the well known charity agencies don’t have that specialism, so find a head hunter, pay someone who is well connected with minoritised fundraisers to post on their social media and reach out to their network directly.


“Stop thinking that just putting it out on different job boards will change the result, and actually put the work, time and money into bringing in cultural additions to your team. Often organisations haven’t refreshed their job packs or application forms for about a million years, these need to be tailored to actually attract the kind of change you want in your organisation.”

Widen where you’re looking too – outside of fundraising there are lots of capable, talented people with transferable skills who are keen to work in the sector. Inside the sector too – getting caught up on formal qualifications can also exclude.

Here Emma Adams, Associate Director – Fundraising, Charity People says:

“We cannot emphasise the importance of charities considering candidates with transferable skills. In an industry that is job heavy and candidate short we need to bring new people in. There is so much talent out there and we see candidates successfully transitioning into fundraising roles from a range of backgrounds including sales, marketing, communications and banking. Diversity and inclusion remain a challenge in fundraising and we recommend that charities address this by considering candidates with transferable skills and undertaking positive action searching.”

And, once the job ad has gone out, it really helps to be available. Make yourself accessible by offering time to talk to people about the role outside of the interview room. The more approachable you are, the more attractive your organisation will look, and the better a picture you’ll be able to build up of potential candidates.

A further key point to remember – always, but even more so now – is to be open and honest.  Not just about the job, but about your organisation’s current situation. Jobseekers will be aware that your charity may have faced tough challenges during the pandemic so it’s important to acknowledge these to build trust.

Hannah Laking, Principal Fundraising Consultant at Harris Hill says:

“Candidates want to know what they’re going into. Everyone knows there have been job losses and major problems as a result of the pandemic, so it’s much better to be open about the impact and where things stand now, than to try and gloss over it.


“Trust is hugely important if people are going to feel secure about coming on board, and if they feel you’re not being totally upfront about the Covid situation, they’re naturally going to wonder what else you might be holding back.”

And finally, one more tip. Keep the momentum going with the recruitment stages – in such a competitive market if you let things drift and delay making decisions or getting back to people you could end up losing your best candidates to another role.