Welcome! Now get to work.

Manager with new employeeManager, Day 1: You’ve been short staffed for weeks and your new employee starts this morning. You need them to hit the ground running.

New Employee, Day 1: Need to find the nearest supply room, restroom, and fridge to store a lunch bag. Computer is still in the box. Desk chair was the department hand-me-down that is permanently stuck on floor level.

Manager, Day 2: You’re waiting for the new employee to answer your email about the rush-job project for the vice president.

New Employee, Day 2: Still waiting for IT to come and set up the computer, but just found out you need an email address to put in an IT work order. Must attend a benefits seminar before HR will provide you with an email address. The next benefits session is next week.

Does some version of this sound familiar?

The first week of work is usually dreadful for everyone involved, but it really doesn’t have to be. It’s a lot of work to hire a new employee, but it doesn’t end when they sign the offer letter. That’s really when the important stuff begins.

What can you do to make new employees feel welcome and be productive from Day One?

  1. Create email accounts and purchase logins for all subscription accounts as soon as the ink is dry on the offer letter acceptance. The larger the organization, the more time this takes, so get going on that right away.
  2. Buy, set up, and test all computer hardware before your new hire walks in the door.
  3. Assign a willing and cheerful colleague to show your new hire where all of the conveniences are and to be a buddy throughout their first week.
  4. Make an effort to welcome the new hire on a personal level, whether it’s a card, a bunch of tulips, or a hand-made sign. A small thing can be a big deal. (I still remember a card that a kind boss gave me a very long time ago. It set the tone immediately about her as a person and about the kind of manager she was going to be.)
  5. Arrange for a group lunch on the new employee’s first day. If your team is large, break it up into two or more manageable gatherings so the person can actually get to know their colleagues.
  6. Provide the new person with a here’s-how-we-get-things-done manual. It doesn’t need to be extensive, but if there are expectations that ‘everyone’ knows and abides by, you’ll want the new person to be aware of them right away. Be sure to include an org chart.
  7. Arrange for training on your organization’s donor database(s) and anything else the new person will be using daily – as soon as you can.

What advice do you have to help managers welcome new employees? What has helped you get acclimated to a new job?

How to recruit for that hard-to-fill position

poppy wheat1 NKHow do you recruit new employees? That’s always a tough question in the prospect research field.

Partly because there is no college degree in prospect research. High school kids don’t think “Hey! I’m going to be a prospect researcher when I grow up!” Not because it’s not desirable, but because they just don’t know prospect research as a career choice exists.

Also because we as a profession don’t set up booths at career fairs – even at schools of library science where we’d be a shoe-in for interested candidates. We’re not licensed or certified professionally.

Sure, those things would help, but they’re expensive and labor intensive. As a profession we just don’t have the money, the mandate, or the manpower yet.

And speaking of which, compared to most other professions, there really just aren’t that many of us that do prospect research, relationship management or analytics full time. Maybe six or seven thousand worldwide. Compare that with the number of nonprofits in the US alone (1.5 million). Or the number of members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (30,000).

We’re a really small niche.

So it’s not news that recruiting and hiring talented, experienced researchers can be difficult.

When you need to fill a new position and you’re not getting any applicants from the usual channels, what else can you do?

Just like when we’re trying to find new donors, it pays to be proactive when looking for research professionals. The talented ones generally aren’t looking for a new job; if their supervisors are smart, they’re being appreciated monetarily and are kept intellectually stimulated where they are. (Fortunately for you, that’s not always the case).

Whatever the situation, if the talent isn’t coming to you, you have to go to the talent.

  1. Be where the researchers gather. I got my second job because a director of development went to a CASE research conference that I also attended. We struck up a great conversation and six months later I got a call asking if I was interested in applying for a newly-created job. (A word to researchers who are passively looking – be sure to chat with the fundraisers that show up at research conferences!).
  1. Talk to trusted researchers you know and ask them to help spread the news. What are the top three best things about the job you have open? Flexible hours? Great salary? Free concerts? Tuition reimbursement? Whatever those things are, work the word-of-mouth grapevine amongst your trusted researcher network by highlighting them.
  1. Sort through the APRA or local chapter directory. Many times people list their talents and interests on their online member profile, and you can filter on just the skills you need to find candidates nearby. Even if they’re not interested, they’ll be flattered you sought them out, and will usually pass the job details along to others they know.
  1. Use social media to advertise. We’ve always been savvy technologically, but prospect researchers are increasingly using social media like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to pass along news of job openings to colleagues.
  1. Hire a consultant or search firm to help you. If you’ve been searching for a candidate for too long and still haven’t filled the opening, maybe the job description needs to be re-tooled or given a reality check by someone who knows the field well. Research consultants may also know out-of-towners who are looking to move to the area or are ready for a new challenge but need a push.

What other tips do you have for recruiting new talent?


*A tip of the hat to Sofia Kelesidou for inspiring this blog post*

Introverts Advance! How researchers adapt in an extroverted world

We kick off October with a guest post from HBG Senior Researcher Kenneth Tavares. Like EF Hutton, when normally-quiet Kenny offers a comment at one of our staff meetings, the rest of the team listens. Kenny always has something insightful to say. Here he guides office introverts in the ways of getting ahead and getting heard. Enjoy!

Businessman Wearing Cape --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

When I entered the field of prospect research more than 10 years ago, I was admittedly intrigued by the opportunity to not only provide appropriate intelligence, but also to do it with a certain amount of autonomy.

You see, I tend to be introverted, especially at work.

I prefer to take on assignments that I can manage myself and I derive a certain amount of energy from working alone. I felt fortunate to have the opportunity to take on a necessary role in an organization that was uniquely my own.

As I learned more about the profession and began to be exposed to the larger community of professionals through organizations like APRA and NEDRA, it became clear to me that my sense of prospect research was not entirely accurate.

Researchers are becoming more dynamic members of the fundraising team, earning a more prominent seat at the table of their institution’s strategy sessions.

In order to grow as a field, researchers must continue to occupy an important position in any organization’s development activities.

But what if you’re an introvert? Is your work style undervalued in your organization? Does the open-office concept leave you feeling uncomfortable and unable to focus? Are you overshadowed by extroverted colleagues? Do you sit quietly during team meetings and feel uneasy about speaking extemporaneously?

Do you wonder how and if you’ll be able advance in your organization?

According to Susan Cain, author of QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, one-third to one half of the population are introverts.

In contrast, research by Adam Grant of The University of Pennsylvania, Francesca Gino of Harvard University, and David Hofman of the University of North Carolina determined that 96% of managers exhibit extroverted traits.

Despite the sense that extroverts are more natural leaders, studies have shown that introverts are more valuable members of a team environment, according to Anita Bruzzese, syndicated columnist and author of the book 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy. Introverts are more collaborative, better listeners, and are more focused on completing their work. They are also more concerned with contributing their share to team assignments.

I could go on and on naming the positive qualities of introverts but the truth is, in most work environments, extroverts get more attention.

So what can an introvert do to gain traction at the office?

Does one have to change who he or she is in order to be noticed? Not at all. In fact, several successful leaders identify themselves as introverts, including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg – and even President Barack Obama, Mohandas K. Gandhi and Eleanor Roosevelt!

So it’s possible to maximize the strengths of introverts – but how does that happen?

Find a balance between being one’s self and moving from one’s comfort zone.

According to Beth Buelow, founder of The Introvert Entrepreneur, there are many steps introverts can take to promote themselves, including:

  • Becoming more comfortable discussing how their contributions were part of their team’s past success
  • Being willing to glow in the success spotlight when it shines on them and colleagues.
  • Learning to recognize and promote personal strengths, like listening and viewing all sides of problem before acting.

These are skills that are valuable to any organization!

Now, about working with those extroverts…

Working with others can be stressful, no matter whether you’re an introvert or extrovert. Here are some tips for managing from performance consultant Sherrie Haynie:

  • Identify activities that drain your energy, such as meetings, and allow for decompression time to recharge your batteries and maintain productivity.
  • Breathe and count to 10: taking a brief “time out” in stressful situations is also helpful, allowing you to avoid uncharacteristic outbursts.
  • Before you go into a meeting, try to anticipate questions to avoid being put on the spot. Or, if you are asked a question you don’t know the answer to, explain to your colleagues that you’ll be happy to get back to them with the answer as soon as possible.
  • Communicating with your supervisor how you work best can go a long way toward establishing a strong working relationship between you, and with others on your team.

I hope that the ideas here will help you adapt to your work environment. While I will continue to face my own challenges, it is helpful to know that there are many resources available about introverts in the workplace. I have included some links below. I would love to hear about your experience as an introvert or working with an introvert.

Please feel free to share your comments below. I look forward to being part of a bigger conversation.









Prospect identification: 5 steps to get action on the front line

Artist painting clouds

Prospect identification is a bi-polar experience for many prospect researchers and analytics professionals: it’s both pure joy and deep-seated frustration. Not all of the time, but mostly.

On the one hand, it’s creative. It’s super fun. (And at work, yet!)

Prospecting sure beats the heck out of doing profiles. Not because profiles aren’t interesting in and of themselves, but because prospect ID projects come from *your* heart. You dream them up, you make them happen. Sure, the project may be in response to a request, but how you fulfill it uses your own chosen palette to create the masterpiece.

But then, on the other hand, you pass off the list of names and what do you hear back?  Crickets. [Read more...]

Prospect identification: 4 ways to help retain new donors

Man with Bouquet

One of the scariest things we know as fundraisers is that donor attrition is at stratospheric levels.

Studies by the renowned philanthropy scholar-evangelist Adrian Sargent have shown that (on average) charities lose 50 percent of their cash income from brand-new donors between their first and second gift, and up to 30 percent after that. (Read Dr. Sargeant’s outstanding article in Nonprofit Quarterly here). [Read more...]

Prospect identification: Grow Some Feet

Working Girl meme

These days, prospect research is seen as a fairly cerebral task where you sit at your desk gathering information using a computer while trying not to snack (or maybe that’s just me?).

Back in the day, though, being a researcher meant never needing to say “boy, I really need a gym membership.” Typically, a journal entry for a day would go something like this: [Read more...]

Prospect Identification: Going beyond the same old same old

The theme for our HBG September blog is prospect identification and, because it’s one of her favorite activities, I asked Senior Researcher Jennifer Turner to give us some creative ideas for finding new donors.  Over to you, Jen!

Ideas - Creativity

Your usual prospecting assignment: Find high net worth individuals (HNWIs) with the capacity to make a gift in a specific target range and with a likely interest in your cause.

Sounds like Prospecting 101, right?

Your usual method might be head to donor lists of organizations similar to yours to see who is giving, and at what level.

But what if you took some slightly unusual approaches – ones that shake up the traditional ways you normally prospect? Might that result in viable new prospects as well? My experience says yes! [Read more...]

Getting Through: 3 Easy Tips to Avoid Communication Death Traps

Sydney Harris quote

I got an email like this* the other day which just cracked me up:

To: Helen Brown
From: XYZ Company
Subject: The Master List of DNS Terminology


XYZ Company is passionate about internet performance, particularly when it comes to DNS. We realize that DNS, ISC and BIND can be difficult to understand when the terminology is unfamiliar. It’s easier to get the most cost efficiencies from your DNS provider and services if you know the basics. That’s why we’ve created “DNS, ISC and YOU.” This essential e-Book lists the need-to-know terms that you’ll frequently hear when DNS is discussed. Download now and start saving your company money!

Best regards,

The XYZ Company Team

Ummm, yeah.

[Read more...]

What’s in your toolbox?

tackle box

How do you know if your researcher or research team has all of the tools needed to be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead?

When a fundraising office needs to be sure they are ready for a capital campaign, the traditional path is to contract with a campaign consultant to do a needs-analysis and feasibility study.

While those consultants have deep knowledge about how to configure a team of fundraisers, how to craft a campaign message, and how to set up volunteer boards, many fundraising consultants aren’t well-versed in how to effectively deploy the intelligence side of the shop: prospect identification, research, and relationship management.

[Read more...]

16 cool resources every fundraiser should know about

I love free stuffThis list of resources answers many of the frequently-asked questions we get from clients asking “where should I go to get…?” Everything on the list is free (or very inexpensive) and will help you be more efficient and get the best expert advice.

Great free tool: the gift range calculator

This is the tool you use when you’re new to fundraising and your board chair says “Welcome aboard. I need you to tell me what we’ll  need to do to raise $10 million.” No need to panic, just use this handy little gift pyramid calculation tool as a starting point.

Contact report get-it-done-quick short cut

[Read more...]