Posted on May 15, 2013 • Posted in What We're Thinking About

This year, the Chronicle has turned its attention to turnover of development staff at nonprofits.  The short version:  it is rampant, and it is problematic.

In a recent survey, half of fundraisers holding the top job at their organization reported planning to quit within two years, with 40% reporting they planned to leave fundraising entirely.  When they do leave, the job is vacant for an average of six months, with some vacancies extending into years while the search for a talented fundraiser continually comes up empty.

Turnover costs organizations a considerable amount of money in training and, most importantly, lost revenue.

Increasingly, leadership is turning to consultants to fill the gap temporarily-

Finding a replacement can take several months, and often longer, so the temporary arrangement ‘gives the organization some breathing space, rather than having to get someone because the wheels are falling off,’ says Timothy Higdon, the former chief development officer at Girl Scouts of the USA, who has held several temporary senior development positions in his career. ‘It gives the organization a chance to do the search. You’re not making the best decision if you rush.’

There are additional benefits to bringing in someone temporarily.  Consultants typically have decades of experience that is a unique resource for junior development staff, executive directors, and trustees.  This experience, combined with the consulting role outside of staff relationships, often means that your temporary fundraiser can discuss issues more candidly than a permanent staffer could.

Hammond & Associates has been involved in many transitions in leadership over the years, and agree wholeheartedly with the Chronicle’s assessment.  If you are experiencing a transition in fundraising management, utilizing consultants in a temporary capacity can help set the stage for your new development officer and ultimately position your organization for greater success.

Have a question about a transition in development leadership?  Ask Hammond.