When Should You Hire More Fundraising Staff?


You may face that age-old question: “I need more staff to raise money but I need to raise money to hire more staff” … what can I do? 

So, when is the right time to consider hiring more fundraising staff (or any fundraising staff) or expanding your fundraising capacity converting a part-time position to full-time?  

The easy answer is when you have more donor capacity than you can harness with your current staffing model you should consider adding more staff time dedicated to fundraising.  

“That’s pretty obvious” you might think. So, when do you know you reached that point?  

In addition to (or instead of) creating a formal fundraising plan, ask yourself a few simple questions to gauge if you might want to consider investing more resources in fundraising staff. 

  1. Are you taking longer than 2 days to thank your donors for a gift? You want to generally get a thank you in the mail within about 48 hours of receiving a gift. If you take longer than a week, you need more capacity.  

  2. You receive less than 90% of your gifts from your top 10% of donors. This signals a need to invest more in your major gift program. This time-intensive program requires dedicated staff time to personally meet with your top donor prospects. How do you know? Watch this video to find out how to quickly analyze whether or not you have more major gift capacity.  

  3. You cannot follow up with event attendees within a few weeks to gather feedback, thank them for attending, and put them into your fundraising funnel. Event attendees gave you their time and attention by attending your event and become great prospects to at least assess for long-term giving potential. If you do not have time to think about them, you need more staff time. 

  4. You repeatedly miss grant deadlines, especially for grants for which you normally apply and receive. Relatedly, if you do not have time to cultivate and steward corporate and foundation donors or prospects, you need to add more time to your fundraising functions. 

  5. You find yourself always behind and stressed about meeting fundraising deadlines. Fundraisers never “finish” the job; we always have new prospects to visit and ideas to implement. But if your staff work efficiently yet never feel like they have accomplished what they need, you may want to look at increasing your fundraising capacity.  

If you decide you need to hire more staff or invest more in fundraising, where can you get the money?  

As a general rule, a new fundraiser should raise his or her salary (and benefits) and more after about two years so you need to figure that into your budget calculations.  

You might also consider outsourcing some of functions to allow current or new staff to focus on relationship building – which I never recommend you outsource. If you outsource some functions, do your homework to assure that person can succeed and help your organization raise more money as well.  

You might also help your fundraising staff focus more on relationship cultivation by hiring administrative staff to help with more backroom tasks (scheduling meetings, processing gifts, creating thank you letters). Often you can hire an assistant at a lower salary which may help you see a financial payoff more quickly. 

Remember that it takes money to raise money so you need to invest in the revenue-generating aspects of your organization which includes fundraising. Sometimes a short-term budget hit can pay off strong dividends in the end.