Originally published January 22, 2015
Talent management is a hot topic in the field of fundraising for a good reason; the data has repeatedly shown that non-profit success often lives or dies in the hands of a few high-performing fundraisers. 2015 will require non-profit leaders to face the talent crisis head on. The following anticipated trends for 2015 will drive the need to find, keep, and grow fundraising talent.
|1.||An Expanding Rise in Competition for Talent. Competition for talent isn’t going to get better in the near future. Development shops are increasing in size and in campaign goals. Similarly with the count of $1M+ gifts dropping dramatically while the number of $50M+ gifts continues to rise,(1) the need for experienced, sophisticated fundraisers has increased while the group of the most experienced major gift teams is heading into retirement.
Further, as charities abroad continue to grow in number and size, and as multiple universities seek nine and ten figure campaigns, the demand for development talent on and behind the frontline will rise dramatically.
There’s no real pipeline of talent to support this growth. As a consequence, fundraisers across the board of experience are being actively and frequently (10+ times a year) recruited from other institutions(2) only to stay for a couple of years before moving onward yet again. This disruptive pattern is even more disheartening when you take into account the 3.5- to 4-year ramp-up period for the return on investment in hiring a fundraiser.(3)
|2.||Hybridization and Re-imagination of Hard-to-Fill Roles. Facing the increasing competition for talent, especially seasoned fundraisers, many institutions are likely to find themselves with extended vacancies or rapid turnover. In the immediacy of needing to fulfill the duties assigned to these staffing gaps, we are likely to see an increase in creativity with the existing team member roles and responsibilities, including:
|3.||Experiments in Growing Your Own Talent. As institutions are forced to get more creative and strategic about talent, we will see a rise in programming and structures built around growing talent internally, especially by larger institutions. This will be marked by:
2015 will be a year for testing new pilot programs and strategies to better manage the time of the frontline talent an organization has and create a pathway for high potential individuals to grow. In all likelihood the most notable programs of the future will not be the institutions which grow to have the largest development staff sizes, but rather those organizations that best attract, develop, and optimize the talent they do have.
1 – The Million Dollar List. Accessed December 8, 2014.
2 – 2014 BWF Survey of Frontline Fundraisers
3 – 2014 BWF DonorCast Talent Analytics
Copyright © 2015 Bentz Whaley Flessner & Associates, Inc.