New faces with fresh ideas can be a tremendous resource and refreshing to a nonprofit’s staff of fundraisers. Enthusiasm is a great morale booster across the board, but channeling a newcomer’s energy is key to ensure the mission’s course and staying within the campaign’s focus.
Mentoring the beginner
Mentorship for the beginner fundraiser is vitally important. While we all must start somewhere and eventually go it alone, having a mentor to fall back on in the beginning can make the process go smoother and faster. Pairing seasoned pros with newcomers is one way to ensure focus is where it should be. The mentor should be confident enough not to squash the enthusiasm of the newbie, but guide them to make it useful.
Assigning the beginner with a creative task will either affirm a good or bad hire status. Key fundraising professionals take initiative, use creative thought and understand donors.
Learning the donor’s personality traits and quirks are vital to any campaign, and while this takes some seasoning, a newcomer may find ways to achieve this that older fundraisers are blind to. Listening goes both ways — hear the beginner out.
Sincerity is critical
Fundraising is very much like sales. All good sales people are brilliant at understanding relationships, dynamics, “hot button” issues, and emotional touch points within the donor’s realm. Sincerity is a top trait, however, that differentiates other “sales” work from philanthropy. The Golden Rule is “Never, ever, hire someone who cannot honestly advocate from the heart for the organizational mission.” They must believe in it, support it, and wake up every day thinking about how to fund it. It is critical. Understand what makes your fundraising staff tick. Praise them, honor them, promote them, and give them the freedom to make the greatest impact possible.
Ben’s Takeaway: Great fundraisers are creative, entrepreneurial, innovative and take initiative. Guide and direct their efforts, but do not stifle their passion.