Meeting the Need for More Advancement Professionals

If there’s one narrative that’s held true in the world of fundraising for years, it’s the difficulty in hiring and retaining talented advancement staff. Studies show major gift officer tenure is anywhere from 1.5 to 3.5 years, and similar retention issues for other positions, driven by a demand for talent and a shallow talent pool.

We all struggle with the impact of this reality. But how many of us are proactively working to address this problem at its source, inviting others to consider building a career in our field?

Agreeing to informational interviews for those who are interested is an activity we all can – and should – commit to, even when we feel too busy to squeeze one more appointment in our calendars. Consider what you could accomplish in just one conversation:

  • Kindling a passion for advancement work in new graduates and experienced professionals with transferable skills.
  • Educating about the nuances of our field: what it takes to be high performing, the struggle against job-hopping, and more.
  • Building a wider understanding of the value and professionalism of our work, a shift underway nationally but still too-slow moving.

When you say “yes” to an informational interview, keep in mind a few tips:

  • Come prepared with actionable advice for moving forward in the advancement field – from attending professional development events to relevant volunteer opportunities to offering additional contacts.
  • Be honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly, allowing for informed decision-making and better self-selection for fit.
  • Above all else, remember what brought you to this profession. Was it a passion for a cause? The idea of helping others do good? Partnering with visionary faculty, physicians, or programmatic staff? Share that inspiration and seek to spark it in others.

When was the last time you agreed to coffee with someone who wanted to learn more about your work?

Today I challenge each of us: schedule one of these meetings in the coming weeks. Say “yes” to someone in your network, tell your alumni group you’re available for fellow alums, or tell your on-campus career counseling center you’d be happy to be a resource. Whatever tool is at your disposal, be a part of recruiting others to help us build a more philanthropic world.

For tools that decrease turnover of your staff once they’re hired, see these 5 Strategies for Retaining High Performing Staff.