Do you know how to stand out when interviewing for a fundraising job?
But if you’re a fundraiser, or wanting to get into fundraising, there’s additional job-specific preparation you can do to best showcase what you can bring to a role.
So once you have your interview for a fundraising position lined up, here are three tips to impress your interviewers and help get you across the line:
1. Learn as much about the organisation and your interviewers as you can
When you’re offered an interview, the organisation will often tell you who will be interviewing you. If they don’t mention it, it’s always okay to ask.
Next, seek out the organisation’s most recent annual reports online and get yourself acquainted with the numbers – particularly the fundraising data from the past three years. Have funds raised gone up, down or remained steady? Has the organisation been spending and investing more money in growing their fundraising, or have they been cutting it back?
2. Ask informed questions
In your interview, ask the panel well-informed questions based on what you’ve picked up from your research – being careful not to come across as judgemental if they’ve been struggling with fundraising.
Ask something like: “Looking at your last three annual reports, I noticed your fundraising revenue has declined – can you tell me about how you’ve approached fundraising in the past?”
Other questions that might show you’re really thinking about how you could contribute to the organisation include:
- How many donors give to the organisation in any given year?
- What proportion of these are annual, monthly, major or one-off donations?
- What proportion of donors give again? (Donor retention rate)
- Which donor pool is the organisation most focused on growing or protecting, and why?
Of course, first make sure this information isn’t available publicly – nothing shows a lack of preparation like asking questions to which the answers are readily available in the public domain.
3. Share your ideas for donor retention
Donor retention is a significant ongoing challenge for many NFPs, so sharing strong ideas can really demonstrate your value as a fundraiser – and help you stand out.
If the organisation’s donor retention rate is below 40 percent (the average retention rate for US charities) – or the interviewers don’t know it at all – this can be a red flag. Regardless, approach your interview prepared to discuss ideas for how you’d improve retention rates.
Ask your interviewers about what sort of donor stewardship activities they already engage in, and come armed with some real-world stewardship examples that have proven successful for you in the past – without criticising what the organisation currently does. If you need a bit of help, the internet is ripe with great ideas for donor stewardship – check out the Storytelling Non-Profit, Non-Profit Hub and Fundraising Authority for more.
Remember: many organisations aren’t necessarily equipped to undertake the stewardship activities they’d like to, so don’t conflate a lack of effective stewardship practices with a lack of awareness of what needs to be done.
Many not-for-profits rely on fundraising to survive – and that means it’s vital they hire the right person for the job. Think you could be that person? Do your homework and show your interviewers how you can add value in a way they simply can’t pass up.
Do you have any tips for how to ace a fundraising interview? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
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