Demand for fundraisers has exceeded pre-recession levels. Higher education institutions are relying on major gifts to replace other sources of revenue that have been cut or reduced. Simultaneously, other nonprofits are expanding into the major gifts fundraising space and competing with universities for fundraisers. This environment has created a seller’s market in which highly qualified gift officers can choose between an abundance of employment opportunities.
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In order to gain an advantage in the bidding war for talent, institutions need to improve their recruiting efforts if they are going to successfully attract high-quality fundraisers. The first step in successfully filling an MGO vacancy is adequately preparing before one occurs.
Disorganized approach results in lost leads
One of the best ways to recruit experienced talent is to identify prospective candidates long before a vacancy occurs. To track prospective candidates, many CAOs keep a mental, paper, or digital version of a “star file” document. This document lists a few potential recruits that the CAO would like to turn to in the event of a vacancy.
Ideally, the CAO will keep in touch with these individuals through the occasional meet-up and email. However, these efforts tend to be one-off, haphazard, and inconsistent. More often than not, they fail to connect the individual strongly enough to the institution to convince them to come onboard when an MGO position opens.
Typical Onboarding Efforts Often Fall Short
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Use comprehensive "star file" to get ahead of the next vacancy
For star files to contribute to recruiting efforts, CAOs need to approach them more systematically. Successful star file systems share a few key elements. They feature mechanisms for identifying prospective candidates. Candidate information is kept in an accessible database. Administrators who work with these star files strengthen candidate relationships through regular contact. Finally, advancement leaders regularly update the file to ensure it’s always ready when they need it.
A robust star file brings with it numerous benefits, including reduced time to hire and increased candidate quality. It also extends the advancement office’s recruiting reach, as it helps administrators tap into prospective candidate’s networks for even more leads.
Key Elements of a Comprehensive Star File
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Competing for Talent