Every January, I usually take a breath, document how the previous year went, and review our strategic plan for the coming year.  At Our Fundraising Search, 2021 was incredibly busy, and 2022 has been even busier. Like other companies, Covid has changed how we work. We used to interview all candidates in person. Now we are mostly remote. We still provide that “unofficial” reference checking by virtue of our network in the community. We used to just work in Atlanta, but we are now in twelve states.

Nonprofit leaders always think they can find their own development officers. We get called in once they have not been able to find suitable candidates or if they have had a bad hire and they know they cannot afford to let that happen again. And now when nonprofits call us, they are asking us to fill not one, but two or three jobs they have open. While we used to do eight to ten searches in a year, we have that many searches running concurrently right now. Our clients actually benefit when we are conducting more than one search because we see more candidates. At our clients’ request, our searches have expanded beyond development to include marketing officers and executive directors/CEOs as well. 

While the average development officer stays fourteen to eighteen months in a job, our placements stay an average of forty-three months or three times longer! In 2020, we began partnering with the African American Development Organization (AADO) to increase the depth and breadth of our candidate offerings. I tell you all of this to underscore that the market for employees is moving faster than I have ever seen and I have been in development for thirty years.  (And I was in human resources before that.) To show you what I mean, I will share my experience in just the last 24 hours.

I have a friend I will call Suzy. She is a young woman who has been working for a church and is interested in transitioning from a faith-based role into fundraising. She has the skills and abilities to do the job, but her actual fundraising experience has been limited to an intern role at a local charity. We recommended Suzy for a role at a small nonprofit for an entry-level development job, but her heart was not in the mission. Making that match is very important. 

Fairly quickly Suzy interviewed for and got two other offers. One was with an organization that had invited us to present a proposal to conduct their search. Suzy reached out to me to discuss both offers.  By coincidence this was right before I was scheduled to speak to another potential client.  When I got on the call with them, they informed me that they wanted to extend an offer to Suzy.  I, in turn, informed them that she was going to accept another offer. Their organization was too late, and their salary offer was too low. 

I have been shocked and amazed by how quickly candidates are moving into jobs, even ones like Suzy who only met the minimum qualifications. Whereas we used to discuss slates of three or four top candidates with our clients, we now pitch them one or two as quickly as they come in.  Clients who cannot or will not move fast enough, lose the opportunity to close the deal. 

I am not sure how long this post-covid job market will last. Candidates are demanding higher salaries, better benefits, and flexibility in working remotely, and their demands are being met. We have always encouraged our clients to hire the most qualified candidates available and then be nice to them. Now when we begin a search, we tell our clients to consider increasing the salary and offering the most they can without negotiating. If not, they will lose a great candidate who can afford to be choosy and will select the best job offer that also offers personal fulfillment.

We regularly maintain about 1,200 resumes in our files. The development role is a great career opportunity for people who care about the mission of an organization and who are not afraid to ask. 

Are you or do you know of a great development candidate that we should meet? Does your organization need one or more qualified fundraisers? Let us at Our Fundraising Search know how we can serve you in 2022.