News & Insight
27th March 2019
Where are all the major gifts fundraisers?
Annalise Pask, Head of Client Development at Philanthropy Company, shares insight into the recruitment woes of the sector
If you are looking for the next step in a career in fundraising, it would seem there has never been a better time to search. There are hundreds of development jobs advertised each week; our LinkedIn feeds are awash with fabulous sounding opportunities spanning the length and breadth of the non-profit sector.
From the perspective of the charity world, though, recruitment has become a huge headache. Time and again we are hearing from our clients and network that there is a complete void in the talent pool – neither the volume of candidates nor the right experience and skills. We have experienced a record number of requests to recommend fundraisers and provide interim solutions to development teams in a fix this year.
There appears to be particularly high churn in the arts, and an acute lack of candidates for mid-level roles at the manager or senior manager level in major gifts. Reflecting the changing funding landscape, there is a greater need than ever for Individual Giving and Trusts and Foundations specialists (where we have seen many more corporate sponsorship opportunities a few years ago).
So where are all the major gifts fundraisers? Why so many vacancies? There are a few possible explanations. Certainly the changes in public funding and a growing role for charities to play in society means more investment needed in the resource to generate and sustain private giving.
Pay will always be a factor, though this seems to be improving. In fact, a recent salary survey by charity recruitment specialists, Kage Partnership, reveals an average 8.5% increase in 2018 pay for manager level positions.
A poor pipeline of rising fundraising stars is certainly a cause for concern. Charities are inclined to persist in trying to fill roles at more senior levels, leaving a big gap in opportunities for graduates and entry level candidates who find it hard to land their first job in fundraising, develop skills and move up the ladder. Meanwhile further up the chain, less experienced people are quickly and in some cases prematurely promoted, creating a top-heavy candidate pool of inconsistent quality, and not enough fundraisers who are able and willing to roll up their sleeves and get on with the more practical elements of the job.
We are delighted with some of the initiatives that are taking place in the sector to encourage new and diverse talent such as the Change Collective and the CASE Graduate Scheme. However, there certainly appears to be a missed opportunity to engage students and first time job-hunters in the diverse, stimulating and rewarding chances to build a career in the charity sector. Charities are rarely represented at university career fairs and many students aren’t aware of the huge range of professional disciplines that make up the fabric of our sector, nor the opportunities to progress comparatively quickly in roles with real purpose and impact – something that should be hugely appealing to Generation Z.
At Philanthropy Company, we provide short and long term solutions to those charities struggling through this current recruitment rut, to provide an experienced pair of hands to support or steer a team through periods of growth and change. We frequently work with newly appointed senior fundraisers to help them with transitioning into new roles particularly where it involves leading a team or working with a board of Trustees through coaching and advisory support.
We are equally growing our network of talented fundraisers to service the needs of our sector and want to work with people at all levels, across the UK. Whether you are a development leader or in the earlier stages of your career, do get in touch for an informal chat if you would like to learn more about consultancy opportunities with us.