Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Finding talent. Growing talent. Encouraging talent.

Did you know that there are about 1 million fundraising positions posted at any given time? 

Competition for the best people is fierce.  To address this issue many of the large higher education institutions are building talent management teams in house to help them discover the best employees and recruit them to their organizations.  The University of Florida, Penn State, Boston University, University of Rochester, UCLA, University of Michigan, University of Iowa, and UC Davis are just a few institutions who are building these talent management teams. All day, every day these professionals think about finding the best talent. They also think about how to grow their own talent, and how to retain their best employees. 

If you are someone who works hard, has some talent, or gains any kind of name recognition you can quickly become a hot commodity.  Many of us receive calls from recruiters and head hunters nearly every day.  Last week I received 3 in one week.  Sometimes they are calling for me and other times they are looking for leads for great talent. 

Here are a few things you can do to get noticed:

Be a problem solver - do you see something that could be done better, more efficiently, or that your organization should stop doing?  Every employee can go to their boss with a problem but the best ones come with a solution or a plan.

Become dependable - everyone likes to have those go-to people on their teams. You know the ones. They are creative, they follow-through, they are positive, they stay late or come in early to make sure the project is complete on time. 

Be creative - I love when my team members come to me with great new ideas.  The bigger and bolder the better. We have a motto at UC Davis - if you are going to go for it then swing for the fences.  Even if the idea is not all the way hatched I love that they are thinking about what more we could do. I make sure I have someone who is creative and a big idea person on each team. They are the first ones I go to when I have an idea and need someone to help me tease it out a bit more.

Market yourself - if you have planned an incredible event, if you have created a brilliant donor impact report, if you have found a smarter way to work - then tell others.  If it's innovative submit it for an award, present at a conference, share your donor feedback up through the ranks so senior leadership is aware of what you are doing.

Build a Network - find a group of awesome colleagues that you admire and get to know them better. When you are stuck call or email them for advice. If you have done something great that worked well for you tell them about it. And they do not have to just be in donor relations field. I have an incredible network of professionals across the country and the world that I have built over my career.   Some serve as advisors, some as mentors, some are amazing colleagues but they are all generous friends.

Tell Your Story - you cannot just do your job well and hope a promotion and raise comes your way. You need to tell others (your leadership, your HR team, head hunters or search firms, or me) that you want to grow personally and professionally.  Tell us what you have to offer and what type of next step you want to take.  Just because you do not see something posted right now does not mean there will not be something perfect very soon.  I talk with my employees regularly about their goals and plans for their career.  Do you?  If you do not – believe me some great recruiter will soon!

Thanks so much to Angie Joens for the wonderful guest post. She and the others in the DRG Group can be reached here: http://www.donorrelationsguru.com/#!drg-group/c1v3w

What do you think of this topic and the ideas? Comment Below!


  1. Thanks, Lynne! I love hearing from Angie (and your other guests)!

    1. You will be hearing from the DRG group more often! Stay tuned!!

  2. This topic was especially helpful at this point in my career. There were several take-aways that I found and will be incorporating in my resume and networking efforts. Thanks, Lynne!

  3. This is excellent advice! Do you have recommendations for awards/recognitions to submit campaigns, items, ideas for? I know of one internally within our organization, but I'm new enough to the field that I don't know what carries weight within the broader field of development.

    1. Hi Kate - not sure what industry you are in but a few I know of are CASE - higher education - has both district or regional awards and national awards. AAMC - health care development - has the GIA awards and numerous categories of awards. AFP - also has awards for philanthropists and fundraisers at the chapter and national level. Hope this helps!

  4. Hi Angie, your comments really resonate with me. I'm hoping to launch a new career in development for higher ed using skills from my sales career. I think I have some great partnership ideas that fall under the category of cause marketing. I invite you to linkin with me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kuhnsb and start a conversation about solving problems through creative thinking. Thanks so much!