Create a Fundraising Plan Before Hiring


Part Two of a Two-Part Series

When you need to increase your fundraising you may be tempted to hire new or additional personnel as quickly as possible.

If your organization is working from a fundraising plan you have a tool to help you evaluate what type of hire you will need to make to achieve your goals. If you are not yet working from a fundraising plan, we always recommend creating one before you make another hire. Our experience has shown that organizations are best served when recruitment and hiring decisions are based on a strategic fund development plan.

It is hard to evaluate whether an individual can do the job if you don’t know exactly what it is that you want to accomplish. A fund development plan clarifies your goals to you and your potential hire, thereby reducing possible misunderstandings and mistakes in the hiring process.

But creating a fund development plan requires a specific skill set. Because of this many organizations contract with consultants to create a customized plan that employs fundraising methods that best fit the culture, mission, region and relationships of your organization. Once created your plan should serve as a multi-year roadmap that guides the work of board members, staff and volunteers. It should include detailed roles and responsibilities for all individuals engaged in fundraising. Your plan should also include criteria for evaluating staff so that expectations about their time and use of resources are clear.

Using your fund development plan in the hiring process also gives candidates an opportunity to determine whether or not they are the right person for a position. As you are looking to hire staff, development professionals out there are doing their own search for a good fit with an organization. A development professional needs to know the organization she or he is joining has the ability and commitment to use their skills and experience.

Once hired a professional can quickly become productive because the plan serves as a roadmap to guide fundraising activities. She knows what needs to be accomplished and can get to work using her skills and experience. Because a well-crafted fund development plan contains roles, responsibilities and timelines the work of staff can be evaluated throughout the year. You don’t have to wait until the end of the year to measure success based solely on financial results.

But a development plan should not stifle a professional’s creativity. Staff should add their input and make adjustments based on experience and insight – so long as they don’t compromise the plan’s integrity.

For a free copy of the Saad & Shaw Fund Development Plan Checklist, call 522-8727 or e-mail

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help nonprofit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. They are the authors of “How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors.” Visit them at or call 522-8727.