CDE project 14 sum­ma­ry: get­ting the right peo­ple as fundraisers

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
May 01, 2017

The right people in place

Helena Sharpstone and Caryn Skinner, March 2017

Reviewed by Kath Abrahams

Summary of findings

At the heart of every fundraiser, regardless of the discipline, is a relationship builder. To be donor-focused is to communicate the urgency and importance of a cause and to provide the donor with a clear way to make an impact based on their abilities, skills and resources. But how do we attract these donor- focused fundraisers? Where do we find them? What recruitment processes help or hinder us? And when we have these donors, how do we keep them?

Our report will provide you with thoughts about the key attributes of such fundraisers in general and about fundraising techniques. We outline tweaks and changes to your recruitment and selection processes, as well as highlighting what keeps these fundraisers developing, growing and staying with you.

We have used our experience and professional background, together with examples from across the sector. We have also been talking to people – fundraisers, managers of fundraisers and directors of fundraising – to obtain their views and experiences too.

How to use the findings

We recommend you use the information to have a bit of a spring clean. What is your mind-set when looking for fundraisers? Are you describing the job in a way that attracts the people you want? Do you have a highly robust person spec that really gets to the heart of what you are looking for so you can test it out in a competence-based interview? How good are your interviewing skills and those of others around you?

Use this report to review all these processes and your behaviours and skills related to attracting, recruiting and retaining donor-focused fundraisers. Have a chat to your HR/Recruitment colleagues and refresh your strategy for recruitment. With your managers, discuss ways of creating a high-performance environment in which your fundraisers can thrive using the information we have consolidated. Have a look at your induction programmes and on-going learning and development plans: Are they supporting your fundraisers to become donor-focussed, and are you rewarding that behaviour through feedback and tangible recognition?

Our findings are not exhaustive and are more pointers and prompts than a blueprint; however, we believe they will help you to stand back and take a good look at the how and the what of recruiting and retaining donor-focussed fundraisers.

Broad scope

To define the personal qualities, characteristics, skills, attitudes and behaviours of high-performing donor-focused fundraisers so they may be found, attracted, recruited and retained.

Key objectives

  • To define what a high-performing donor-focused fundraiser looks like and sounds like, and how s/he behaves.
  • To identify patterns in the personal style of a high-performing donor-focussed fundraiser.
  • To establish whether different skills and behaviours are needed in different FR disciplines.
  • To identify the climate in which high-performing donor-focussed fundraisers can thrive.
  • To outline top-line guidance regarding how to find people, recruit them, train those already in the position as well as newbies, and ways of retaining all of them to establish consistency and results.

Top ten attributes of donor-focused fundraisers

These are ranked by how frequently the attribute was mentioned in all our feedback.

A donor-focused fundraiser:

These skills are a combination of people and process skills, most of which can be learned and developed - this is important when it comes to recruitment.

Further attributes for each main fundraising discipline

Full lists can be found in Appendix one.

The recruitment cycle

Your recruitment and selection checklist

The retention cycle

Your retention checklist

Click on the image below to see project 14 in summary only - PDF format

Click on the image below to see Project 14 in full - PDF format.

About the author: The Commission on the Donor Experience

The CDE has one simple ideal – to place donors at the heart of fundraising. The aim of the CDE is to support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a truly consistent donor-based approach to raising money. It is based on evidence drawn from first hand insight of best practice. By identifying best practice and capturing examples, we will enable these to be shared and brought into common use.

Related case studies or articles

CDE project 14 section 1: our approach and putting the principles and actions into practice

The following are examples of some of our recommendations and observations in action from the people we met, current contacts and clients, and what we have seen across the sector.

Read more

CDE project 14: appendix 1

Here is the full lists of attributes of a donor-focused fundraiser drawn from the surveys and focus groups we conducted.

Read more

CDE project 14: appendix 2 and 3

Examples of donor-centred behaviour in fundraisers as described to us by those we interviewed.

Read more

CDE project 14 appendix 4: insight profiling

Insight Discovery is a model that measures behavioural preferences. It uses a system of four colours to describe different styles of behaviour.

Read more