At S&W, we have seen many of our nonprofit clients filling executive and development leadership positions with talented professionals possessing relevant skills but without prior fundraising experience, which is essential for these positions. Recognizing the importance of fundraising to these positions, we developed the Executive Philanthropy Orientation Series (EPOS) to bridge this gap. Our aim is to equip senior leaders with the essential principles of fundraising, empowering them to excel in their new roles with confidence.

In today’s job market, across all sectors, competition for talent is fierce. Employees seek exciting – and flexible – work environments, professional development opportunities, competitive compensation, and attractive and comprehensive benefits packages. Nonprofits are vying with major corporations, which can make it difficult to attract and retain talent. This is especially true when hiring fundraising professionals and organizational leaders. An article in Advancing Philanthropy titled “Why Have all the Candidates Disappeared?” cited that nearly 30% of those in fundraising roles said they “were contemplating leaving philanthropy altogether.”

In response to this challenge, many nonprofits have begun hiring organizational leaders or chief development officers who don’t have fundraising experience. They may be tapping into seasoned program or marketing and communications members of their own staff or hiring from outside the nonprofit sector. These professionals have been charged with fundraising, but they either have not had formal fundraising training or, in some instances, have many years of experience in an adjacent field, such as sales, but no specific nonprofit experience.

A Smart Investment

Investing in programs like EPOS is crucial for nonprofits seeking to onboard and support leaders who may not have traditional fundraising backgrounds. By providing comprehensive training in fundamental aspects of fundraising, such as crafting a compelling case for support, fostering a culture of philanthropy, understanding revenue streams, and strategic development planning, organizations can ensure that their leaders have the knowledge and tools needed to drive fundraising success and advance the organization’s mission effectively.

Interactive programs offer participants the opportunity to engage with experts and peers, exchange ideas, and discuss challenges and opportunities they face in their day-to-day work. This fosters valuable interactions and relationships, enabling participants to connect, contribute, and collaborate effectively. These types of programs can effectively support senior leaders, ensuring they have the knowledge and tools needed to drive fundraising success and advance the organization’s mission.

All this plays a vital role in helping nonprofits address the skills gap in fundraising leadership roles. By investing in comprehensive training and fostering interactive learning environments, organizations can empower their leaders to navigate the challenges of fundraising successfully and drive positive outcomes for their missions.

Learn more about our Executive Philanthropy Orientation Series.