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Sunday, January 21, 2018

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Hiring Is A Two-Way Street…
Michael Bacon, CFRE

September, 2013

Imagine showing up for a job interview.  You’re on time (even early) but you are kept waiting for 30 minutes.  The candidate who was just interviewed walks through the lobby, giving you “the eye” as she departs.  You enter a conference room to face what seems to be a firing squad of a Search Committee.  There are no real introductions and they start asking you questions immediately.   You sense an almost antagonistic edge to the questions.  And when you ask them a few carefully planned questions, they seem caught off guard. You leave wondering if you made the right choice in applying.   Any of this sound familiar? 

In our recruitment work, we often hear negative stories like this.  Great candidates are treated poorly during the interview process and are turned off by what they perceive to be the nonprofit’s less-than-caring culture.  In a job market that desperately needs qualified and experienced fundraisers, candidates are actually interviewing the nonprofits too. 

Here are four areas where nonprofits must prove themselves to candidates:

Credibility:  Can the candidate see your financials in advance?  Is the Board/staff able to answer questions about those revenue and expense lines?  Is your board list available online?  How does your external reputation hold up in the community? 

Vision: Is there an exciting plan for the future?  Can the candidate see your most recent strategic plan…or is it out-of-date and obsolete?  Are the Executive Director and the Board passionate about where the nonprofit is headed?  How can you convey that enthusiasm to candidates during their interviews?

Cultural Fit:  Did the candidate get a tour?  Did you share an organizational chart in advance?  Can potential hires meet members of the senior staff to get a sense of their caliber and personalities?  Remember, candidates are trying to figure out if they will like working for you.  Will they be valued?  Will they fit in with the team already in place 

Transparency: Can the candidate get an honest answer from the staff and Search Committee?  Were people open about the challenges the nonprofit faces?  Or did the experience seem too good to be true?

We know of a search where a qualified candidate ended his day with the President/CEO.  In their conversation, the President made it clear that he wanted very little do with fundraising and hoped that the department would get its work done without “bothering” him.  Needless to say, the candidate withdrew from the search the next day. 

If the Bacon Lee & Associates team can assist you with a job search, please contact us at


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