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Five compelling questions to ask when interviewing for a fundraising job

Pearl and Mel Shaw

Pearl and Mel Shaw

FUNdraising Good Times

Five compelling questions to ask when interviewing for a fundraising job

By Pearl and Mel Shaw

(Part Two of A Two Part Series)

You’ve been selected to interview for a fundraising position. You’ve read the job description; researched the organization online; you’ve even talked with people who have been involved with the nonprofit over the years. You feel it inside: “this could be my dream job.” Yes, it could. But, it could also be a nightmare.

Careful interview preparation can help inform your career path and save you some frustration. Listen to your heart, but take the time to develop and ask a few specific questions. This is your opportunity to find out whether or not you will be able to be succeed in the position you are interviewing for. Reflect on past experiences – what made your positions exciting and which made going to work a drudgery. Develop a few questions that you believe will uncover the information you need to make an informed decision.

Here are five to consider.

  1. How is fundraising success measured within this organization? How do you intend to evaluate my work? Beyond meeting the fundraising goal, what are the factors that determine success or failure? If the interviewer doesn’t know these, it may be hard for you to “meet the mark.”
  2. What resources will the organization provide to ensure my success? For example, what percentage of time does the executive director allocate to fundraising on a regular basis? How are board members involved in fundraising, beyond oversight and policy approval? Will I be allowed to contact board members directly? No matter how talented you are you already know that you cannot succeed without leadership’s full engagement.
  3. Is the organization working from a fundraising plan? If selected for a second interview, can arrangements be made for me to review the plan before that interview? Is your current fundraising volunteer led or is it staff led? Again, if the interviewer doesn’t know that should be a red flag.
  4. Did the organization meet its annual fundraising goal last year? Were there any “extraordinary” gifts that impacted the final numbers? Related questions can include: what was the annual goal? Was it meaningfully larger or smaller than the prior year? Was the annual goal met in the prior year? How is the annual goal determined, and by whom? These questions will reveal the extent to which the interviewer knows and understands fundraising.
  5. Please share with me the specific fundraising skills and experience you expect from the person you hire. Answers to this question can quickly reveal if your experience is a fit.

Here’s the bottom line: if you are reporting to someone who doesn’t know fundraising it may be a challenge for you to be successful. It’s better to know before you start a new position.

Copyright 2015– Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw position nonprofits, colleges and universities for fundraising success. For help with your fundraising visit or call (901) 522-8727.

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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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