Recruiting for new team members shouldn’t be seen as a task that emerges out of the blue. Given that fundraising teams are likely to experience the highest levels of staff turnover in comparison with other teams within charities, planning for recruitment should be about planning for business as usual, even if you can’t plan for exactly where or when those vacancies are going to come.
A discussion with charity HR directors revealed it’s not unusual for one in five fundraising roles to be vacant in a year, and for recruiting managers in fundraising teams to be the most likely to push to bend internal rules in order to fill these vacancies rapidly, even though they could have been predicted.
Including inevitable vacancies in your planning assumptions upfront will help you avoid panicking to fill a post because of an income gap because that income gap has already been factored in. Fundraisers can be the worst culprits for trying to bend the rules on salary, timing, use of consultants etc. often citing “meeting targets” as the reason. See above for planning for recruitment in advance for how to avoid the need to panic-recruit.
If you’re looking to diversify your workforce, planning in advance for recruitment of a wider range of candidates than you might normally attract becomes even more important in order to seek out different places to advertise, recruitment agency partnerships to work with, or allow for more time for candidates to come forward.
Before you start scoping the role, there’s another vitally important task to undertake that is too often ignored in the flurry to get the job ads out and the recruitment process underway. This is to get a good sense of why the person is leaving. Often this will be for purely positive reasons.
But even if it is, there may be underlying unhappiness that led them to be more likely to take the head-hunter’s call, or open CharityJob’s Saturday vacancy email.
Make sure you use the tools open to you to find out whether there are aspects of the department, role content, management processes that could be improved. Take time to read the write up of any exit interview that’s been done. Over time, this will give you vital information about what’s going on in the department. Are there any patterns emerging? Also make time to chat to the person yourself. Ask them if there’s anything they’d like to tell you about why they’re leaving. On the one hand, this will give you important intelligence to use for scoping the role, or developing your department, and on the other hand it will help the person leaving to feel valued as they move on. Helping people to feel good about the time they’ve contributed to an organisation is very important. Ideally, they will move on to their next role more likely to recommend you as an employer.
If a position becomes vacant, scoping the task of filling it should fit within the overall strategy. The first question shouldn’t be, how do I get another one of those? It should be where should we be focusing our investment to move us closer to achieving our strategy? Of course, this means you have to have a long-term strategy!
It also requires a collaboration between your teams so that they all understand what the overall strategy is. For example, you’ve identified in your long-term plan that you have a real opportunity to grow your trusts and foundation income, but you need an extra team member to work on building these relationships.
You’ve not been able to achieve additional expenditure to hire a new team member. In your events team, you have some events that have been in decline. A vacancy has now arisen in the events team. The first question that you should ask is, should we replace this with another events person, or should we take a decision to delete that post, pause the failing events, and open up a new role in the trusts and foundations team? Of course, events (ideally) generate profit in year, and trusts are a longer term investment, but if you have a five year plan in place, it will be easier to make the business case to take the short term hit for the long term gain.
It’s important to consider the external and internal worlds when putting the role description together. If the person had been in post some time, the role may have evolved with them, so it is important to think this through - ideally in discussion with them before they go. Again, to plan for this in advance, it is recommended to make sure job descriptions are being reviewed and kept up-to-date on an annual basis as part of the appraisal process. Your human resources team should be able to help you with external benchmarking information for setting pay and job title.
They will have access to intelligence from other charities. As you’re planning for the recruitment, think through the impact internally of level and pay of this new role, make sure it’s in line with other comparable roles. Unfair pay disparities can see you in court at one extreme, or at the very least, make people feel under-valued and unhappy.
When you’re writing the role description, in order to attract the widest field of candidates, think through how to open up the skills, knowledge and competencies required for the role to ensure people from different backgrounds would think that they have them.
Different perspectives and ideas are vital to keep the fundraising profession moving forward so really think about where there are parallels in other industries. Companies that are renowned for customer service excellence, for example, or companies that are seen as entrepreneurial.