Industry Expertise · July 23, 2020

Fill Knowledge Gaps With Fundraising Training for Nonprofits

Employees who spend years working at a nonprofit usually do so because they feel a strong connection to the cause. However, nonprofits often have a higher level of turnover than other sectors, because some team members leave to seek higher salaries in other fields.

More employees coming in and out of an organization can create an opportunity for knowledge gaps. Both seasoned team members and new employees may not be familiar with the latest methods for grant writing and fundraising. Implementing some smart hiring strategies and offering fundraising training for nonprofits across your workforce can help fill these gaps and set your organization up for success.


Hiring with the right focus

During the recruiting stage, look for candidates who have experience in the nonprofit sector, either as an employee or as a volunteer. One of the most important qualities is dedication to your nonprofit's mission. Ask the candidate why they want to work at your organization, and why they believe your nonprofit is vital to the community. You should be able to gauge their commitment to the work you do. If they demonstrate passion, you can train for skills.

Looking for experience in sales can also be a helpful approach. You want employees who can tell—and sell—your story to the public. Candidates who've worked in this area may already have the ability to help connect a donor to your cause. Confidence and communication skills can help deepen relationships with potential and current supporters.

Training for fundraising skills

Hands-on experience is often the best teacher. Consider training employees in key skills by giving them small tasks they can take on, such as applying for a small grant or launching a minor fundraising campaign. As they become more confident in their role and effective in their results, you can increase the size or difficulty of their projects.

Make training a regular part of the day. Every staff member of a nonprofit should be able to share in the mission. You could start every board or staff meeting with a quick fundraising tip or even a role-playing session. Bite-sized learning developed over time can be an effective way to build skill sets.

Another way to train a new employee is to have senior team members create internal resources, outlining best practices for grant writing and fundraising. These tales from the field can help new employees get familiar with common scenarios and avoid some of the pitfalls.

Mentorship is one of the most effective ways businesses grow future leaders, and it can also work in a nonprofit setting. Consider pairing senior staffers as mentors for new hires, so they can provide one-on-one tips on the ins and outs of fundraising.

If you need to boost new employees' competence quickly and have the budget, third-party training might make sense. If you hire someone with little or no fundraising experience, sending them to a regional or virtual training conference can help them get up to speed. For the right candidate, the cost could be well worth your investment.

Available tools and resources

There are plenty of resources out there that can help nonprofit leaders train employees, and several of them come at little or no cost. The National Council of Nonprofits' website features tools for creating fundraising plans. Most individual states also have nonprofit associations, and many provide free or discounted training about fundraising for members.

NonprofitReady.org is another source for free online training, with courses in grant writing and fundraising plans. The Association of Fundraising Professionals also offers in-person professional development and online learning.

The most essential trait for employees to do well in a nonprofit organization is a passion for the cause. When a team member feels strongly about your mission, they may be a more effective fundraiser because they understand its importance and are driven to help. If that passion is there to build on, use some of these resources and techniques for fundraising training for nonprofits to get your new hires the practical know-how they need to round out their skill set.

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