Appreciating What You Have – Promoting From Within


By Phil Gerard

As a recruiter I should not be writing this post because I am basically promoting that my clients fire me! But seriously, while the recruitment of external staff will remain necessary to maintain the talent pipeline, I think it is time to talk about the importance of advancing our internal talent. Especially now that we are seeing a growing number of senior fundraising professionals retire.

I am often asked why the turnover in our sector is so high. While there are many factors to consider, one is definitely the lack of advancement opportunities within an organization. This is a serious issue and it has structural, organizational, and cultural aspects.

While many fundraisers enjoy working for a smaller shop with a flatter organizational structure it can be challenging to grow your career organically. Such shops may only have one junior and one senior fundraising position without any steps in between. This structure makes it difficult to move up without moving out first.

Often employees do not feel motivated to move up in their own organization because the financial incentives are not as competitive for internals. To illustrate this I will give you the following example that is not uncommon in bigger shops: For internal candidates there can be regulations on the maximum percentage increase they can receive when being promoted from one salary grade to another (for example from a Development Officer to a Senior Development Officer position). At the same time an external candidate may be able to negotiate the top of the salary range.

Some organizations are very invested in promoting the professional development of internal talent, while others prefer to look outside the organization first. The unknown, the new and shiny seems sometimes more intriguing and appealing then the known entity. But the reality often looks different. Internal candidates are often not only more qualified, but they have adopted the organizational culture, have bought into the cause, and understand the subject matter better.

With the talent crunch that we have in our sector and with the retirement of fundraising veterans inevitable it would be wise for organizations to consider creating structures, programs, and policies that make it easier for internal talent to advance within the organization.


One thought on “Appreciating What You Have – Promoting From Within”

  1. Phil,

    Very good article. This is applicable in the for profit world as well.

    Hanging on to good people should be part of an organization’s strategy. It does take good mentorship and strength and quality in all levels of management to be really effective. It seems in the not for profit world that leadership turnover is very high as well.


    Larry Amstutz

    Charitable Planning Specialist


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