Fundraise Smarter

Hiring an Online Fundraiser? Look for These Resume Skills.

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Aug 10, 2015 10:00:00 AM

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Online Fundraising Skills

With online fundraising still growing at a rate of close to 9% every year, more and more nonprofits are focusing on strengthening this branch of their fundraising and development departments.

That might come in the form of spending more on software, but it also means bringing on development staff that understands the intricacies of online fundraising and has the skills to do it effectively.

So what should development directors be on the lookout for when searching through digital fundraiser resumes?

Email Tools (MailChimp, Constant Contact, AWeber)

Email is far and away the #1 driver of traffic to online fundraising campaigns. To be successful at digital fundraising, you need to have a healthy email list and be really good at sending them messages that get opened and clicked.

If you’re hiring someone to oversee digital fundraising, make sure they’ve got some experience using email tools like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or AWeber. It doesn’t necessarily need to be the same tool you currently use, but having a history of using any of these tools should indicate to you that they understand the concepts behind using email effectively.

When speaking with the job candidate, ask them about email metrics like open rates, and click-through-rates. See if they can pinpoint specific ways to improve a poor open rate. Ask them what a hard-bounce is and why it’s important to avoid.

Web Analytics (Google Analytics, KISSMetrics, Yahoo Analytics, WeDidIt)

Tracking how visitors interact with your website and fundraising pages is a vital part of successful online fundraising. At a base level, they should know how to track total visits to a site, along with traffic to specific pages and acquisition sources (how visitors find your site). This is important because you want your digital fundraiser to know exactly how many people are seeing your fundraising campaigns online, and where they’re coming from. That way you can spot what’s working well and double efforts on that platform, or see what underperforming acquisition channels need some tweaking.

If you find someone comfortable using the behavior flow or conversion tracking tools, you’re really in luck! They’ll be able to closely examine how visitors to your site interact with pages and make improvements that drive more donations.

Spreadsheet Tools (Excel, Google Sheets)

Digital fundraising involves lots of data and dozens of metrics to measure and track to ensure growth. Email metrics, donation data, web analytics, all must be tracked and analyzed. The best online fundraisers will have strong spreadsheet skills that allow them to make sense out of this mountain of data.

In interviews, ask these candidates how they managed their data. See if they found any clever uses of pivot tables, charts, or formulas to track data and how they applied that knowledge to make improvements to their online fundraising efforts.

Appeal Writing

Much like copywriting for direct mail campaigns, writing copy for online campaigns is a delicate art. Appeal emails and campaign pages must succinctly communicate the need for funds. The copy must be persuasive, but not too long. Otherwise, you run the risk of information overflow for visitors, decreasing the conversion rate of your page.

Before having candidates come in for an interview, ask them to provide samples of appeals they’ve written to get a feel for their writing skills. Is it strong and to the point? Or does it ramble on and leave you confused? Hire that strong writer!

Social Media Skills

Social media drives the second most traffic to most crowdfunding campaigns after email. And while “Social Media Gurus” appear to be everywhere these days, it is important to gauge a job candidate’s level of comfort and knowledge with various social media networks. Do they understand the differences between various networks like Twitter and Facebook? Do they have a pretty good feel for which networks your audience of donors likely spends time on?

Highly qualified candidates might even have experience with paid ads on these networks, a highly valuable skill. These candidates can help you effectively bring in donations using targeted ads, making your efforts far more cost effective.

Donor Database Tools (Raiser’s Edge, SalesForce)

This may seem like a “Well duh!” statement when hiring a fundraiser, but it can be easy to overlook the “traditional” hard fundraising skills even a new-age digital fundraiser needs to be successful. Remember, your online donors need engagement and stewardship as well, and database tools can help you do just that.


What job skills do you look for in an online fundraiser? Let us know in the comments!

Crowdfunding Guide

Topics: Online giving, online fundraising

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