14 Apr Transferable skills and why charities should embrace them
Recently, I had the absolute pleasure of speaking to two brilliant fundraisers. Although one has specialised in corporate and events and the other in trust fundraising, they both had something in common: this was their first fundraising role having transferred from other industries.
My corporate and events fundraiser had come from the pharmaceuticals industry. He decided after several years that he wanted to transfer his business development and corporate event management experience to the charity sector. With his experience of managing the sales process, working to targets, and his client relationship building experience he found the transition both rewarding and enjoyable.
My trust fundraiser had been a teacher who found she also had a talent for writing funding applications having secured a grant for additional services within the school she was based in. She loved this side of the her role, and saw that lesson planning, presenting, engaging, supporting, and evaluating as she did in teaching were highly transferable to trust fundraising in the charity sector.
Both fundraisers brought insight and experience from outside of the charity sector which they applied to their new roles and the result has been overwhelmingly positive. Income targets had been well and truly achieved and the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ thinking had been thrown out of the window – positive for donors and other members of the internal team.
I want to say this is standard, that all charities take this approach when recruiting, that they encourage candidates to apply from outside of the sector AND mean it. The reality is more often the charity would rather not take the risk and would prefer to employ a like for like fundraiser.
Now more than ever, when it comes to strengthening teams and finding the right skillset it is important to look outside of the sector as well as within. The pool of fundraisers is getting smaller, but the entrepreneurial, passionate, driven individuals from outside of the sector is not and charities will be richer if they let them join.
Lets practice what we preach: transferable skills, diversity, inclusivity – let’s not just have them as tick boxes but as words we keep in our minds at all times when recruiting.
Take a good look at the job description and the person specification section for the role you are recruiting and keep asking yourself ‘why?’ Is this necessary? Are we excluding candidates by asking for this? If your job descriptions have remained the same for the last 5 years or longer then they are out of date. The world has changed, your job descriptions need to change too.
This is a great time to review, evaluate, ask questions and plan and hopefully start to do things differently.