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Hire Greatness

It’s a dilemma most growing organizations face at some point.

They’re upping their fundraising game. Their busy directors can’t devote enough time to doing things thoroughly. They need to outsource - to hire someone just to focus on fundraising.

But that hire can be expensive. Organizations with a budget of less than $1M aren’t usually equipped to take on a powerful, experienced fundraiser. They just can’t offer an attractive-enough salary.

And the truth is - they shouldn’t have to. They’re still too small to justify that kind of cost.

If you’re in this position - good news. There are ways to get the fundraising support you need without busting your budget.

Here are four places to look for just the right kind of candidate:

1. Look Inside

Before scouring the greater working world, take a look inside your own organization. 

Often, the best fundraisers are the people actually doing the good work themselves. Whether they’re rebbeim, outreach professionals, or soup kitchen managers, your organization’s staffers are crystal-clear on the importance of your work - and feel pretty passionate about it too.

So - anyone in your organization need a pay-raise? Do they happen to have strong social skills as well? 

Why not give them some fundraising responsibilities? It will be a win-win - they’ll get a bigger paycheck, and you’ll get some loyal, passionate fundraising help.

Three quick tips for pulling this off effectively:

  • Look at this new hire as a long-term investment. Don’t look for a major dollars-and-cents return for a few years.
  • Lay out a clear “success plan” so your new hire knows what you expect from them. Of course, make sure the goals you set for them are realistic. For the first year, you don’t have to ask more of them than to cover their own costs, plus bring in a little extra. And you can always throw in bonus compensation if they meet considerable fundraising targets.
  • Invest in this new hire’s professional development. You’ll be ensuring your staffer can do a far better job - and still saving on hiring a full-time fundraising professional.

2. Look at Your Peiros

Don’t have the perfect staff member waiting for a raise? Look a bit further outside your door to the people who’ve benefited from your organization. Alumni. Program graduates. Anyone else you’ve helped.

Lots of your beneficiaries would love the opportunity to give back. And if they’re already in sales-type positions - so they have the right skills - or just at a turning point in their own work lives, they might be perfectly positioned to fill your needs.

Sure, you have no idea whether these people would welcome an out-of-the-blue hiring pitch. But many people love the idea of doing “meaningful” work. 

Pick out a couple of potential prospects and give them a call. You might be pleasantly surprised.

3. Look for Less Time

Just because you can’t hire a full-time career fundraiser doesn’t mean you can’t hire a part-timer. 

You might just find someone young, smart, and hardworking who could secure you a major return on a decently small investment.

Sure, they might not be pulling in six figure donations right away. But they can definitely learn and improve. And even without fundraising superpowers, they might easily do a great job of dealing with your lower-level donors, freeing you up to focus on the real big names. 

And the best part? If they prove incredibly valuable, bringing in tremendous new funds, you can always on-ramp them full-time.

4. Look with Help

If you’re on the larger end of the spectrum I’m addressing, and really feel you could use a bona-fide fundraiser, don’t struggle through the process on your own. An executive recruiter can help you find just the right candidate (shoutout to Shira Werblowsky, highly effective recruiter in the Jewish nonprofit world).

Before you pick a recruiter, do some homework. What’s their track record like? Do they have experience dealing with situations like yours? 

Of course, as they send you candidates, don’t forget to do your own research. The world of mosdos Torah isn’t too large - you should be able to do some good digging rather easily.

In the words of Rav Noach Weinberg ztz”l - the best fundraiser is the person who hires the best fundraisers. Let these four tips help you become that very best fundraiser.

What are you going to do this week to start the process?

Hatzlacha raba!


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