Looking for your next nonprofit job?

Are you a nonprofit professional seeking to change jobs in 2024? You aren’t alone – 50% of fundraising professionals say they plan to move on from their current job in the next couple of years. The average tenure in a fundraising position for newer professionals is less than two years (average tenure in a job gets longer the more years you’ve worked in the field, according to some studies). 

If you’re an employer, give the red and green flags listed below some consideration. How do your organization’s practices stack up? Is your culture making you a sought-after employer, or are your red flags flying high and sending great candidates running?

The Alexander|Carrillo team has seen a lot of professionals in our community change jobs over the years, some with great success, others with some degree of regret. While we can’t offer a crystal ball to know if you’re making the right career move, we can share our hot tips for how to set yourself up for success on the job hunt!

1.    Know thyself.

Understand your assets and be confident in talking about them. Ask colleagues and friends to give you feedback about your strengths – and your challenges – so you can clearly articulate them for future employers, along with your plans for continued growth. Understand what you are, and aren’t, looking for in a workplace. Be clear about your values and personal passion, because it isn’t easy to raise money for something you don’t have passion for. Authenticity shines through in a cover letter (more about that later!) and an interview.     

2.    Don’t be intimidated by titles.

If you have the skills an employer is looking for, don’t let an advertised title that might be loftier than your current or previous roles keep you from applying. Women and BIPOC folks, in particular, are less likely to apply for positions they see as out of reach, and therefore, less likely to move up the ladder. Make a realistic assessment of how your experience and skills align with the advertised position, and if you’re a good match, don’t be afraid to throw your hat in the ring.

3.    Write a cover letter.

This piece of the application is grossly underutilized as a prime opportunity to explain your resume and play up your assets! Astonishingly few people include one, or if they do, it’s a generic “To Whom it May Concern” letter. You will stand out from the applicant pool if you take the time to customize your cover letter for each prospective employer. Talk specifically about how your skills align with the position and why you’re excited to work for the organization. Demonstrate that you’ve done some research and understand their mission and programs. Address anything in your resume that might raise questions, such as gaps in employment or short stints.

4.    Beware of red flags.

Even if the position seems a perfect fit for you and you love the organization’s mission, be on the lookout for indicators of dysfunction below the surface, such as:

  • The application and interview processes seem disorganized. This is often an indicator of how the entire organization runs.
  • Interviewers make inappropriate comments or air dirty laundry about the organization or its current/former staff. Lack of boundaries and gossip can make for a miserable workplace.
  • When you ask them how much money they raise annually, they can’t answer.
  • You’re expected to raise your salary in the first year.
  • You’re not allowed to interact with the board.
  • They don’t post the salary range in the job listing and/or won’t answer questions about it prior to an interview.
  • They talk about the sacrifices necessary to do nonprofit work, reference working long hours, weekends, and vacations as a sign of dedication, or mention making do with inadequate or outdated tools. These can be strong indicators of a scarcity mindset and culture of poor work-life balance. 

5.    Look for green flags.

Along with the absence of the red flags above, look for these indicators of a positive workplace:

  • You are treated with respect in every step of the process.
  • Your questions are treated as valid and answered in a timely and useful way.
  • Interviewers can clearly articulate expectations for the position.
  • Leadership is diverse and accessible.
  • The opportunity to meet and talk with other staff (without the presence of the hiring manager) is included as part of the process.
  • Salary and benefits are clearly articulated, along with the organization’s plan for regular increases in compensation.
  • Opportunities for advancement are discussed with you.

 

We’ve all been tempted to take a job that doesn’t feel right for the sake of gaining a higher-level position or earning a bigger salary. Fundraising professionals are in high demand in our community – hold out for an employer that aligns with your needs and values across the board. Your opportunity is out there!

 

Happy job seeking!