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  • Marty Zimmerman

Hiring Time: How to make sure you have the right candidate

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

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Finding the Right Person

In light of our recent blog series on finding development staff – and the fact that EVERYONE seems to be looking for development people right now – we thought it'd helpful to discuss some tips for increasing your chances of finding the right person to move your organization's resources forward:

  1. Make sure your job posting is broad enough to attract nontraditional development candidates: It'd be great to find someone with 5+ or 10+ years of nonprofit fundraising experience, but that may not be possible for your position in this market. Be realistic about what skills and experience you absolutely won't compromise on, and then be flexible and creative on everything else.

  2. Observe how candidates interact with other staff: Beyond a candidate's interactions with you, the decision maker, see how s/he gets along with administrative or program staff as much as possible. This will give you a better sense of personality and character and will indicate how the applicant might fit into your team.

  3. Always give a writing assignment: In most development work, writing is extremely important, so give potential candidates a writing exercise/assignment to see how they come up with original content. This could be in-person at an interview, or from home with a short timeframe, and you could consider having them write part of a grant proposal, a donor-acknowledgment letter, or a letter to a potential corporate prospect.

  4. Make sure references include a direct supervisor: This may sound obvious, but many references are former colleagues who had no supervisory capacity over your potential employee. Speaking directly with a current or former supervisor can give you a better sense of how the person responds to feedback, how s/he accomplishes tasks, and any potential warning signs.

If you need help finding the right development person, contact ZIM. We may know someone who is a good fit for your position, or can connect you to a firm that can help you with your search.

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