Recently, I was speaking with a close friend who made a bad hire when filling a development position.  "I ultimately went with someone I know, not someone who knew."

    She called it a "comfort hire," someone she was familiar with, but not someone with the expertise and experience necessary to work earnestly with her on financial development.  

    In the course of our conversation, I was really impressed by the lessons she took from the experience, how she had learned and corrected after her error.  And so, here are her three lessons on finding the right development professional.   

    First, is there a mission fit with your organization? Does this person get excited by the mission of your organization?  Don't mistake development experience as passion for your mission. Do they have a personal connection with your mission?  Do they feel like a hand in a well-fitting glove?

     Second, does their experience match your organization? For example, I have good friend in financial development with many years of great experience at a major university. He took a job leading the local food bank. He was accustomed to a lot of support from the university and could not translate that experience to the local food bank, which, candidly, was more on a shoe-string budget operation. Big fish, small pond.  Bad fit.

    Third, and most importantly, hire "humble, hungry and smart."   Author Pat Lencioni outlines this concept in his book The Ideal Team Player. This simple process identifies those potential employees who have all the desired attributes necessary to succeed in a healthy organization. And for development folks, hiring humble, hungry and smart also best identifies candidates with the relationship development skills to succeed in a philanthropic organization.

    Remember, it may be a comfortable hire, but is it someone you "know" – or someone that "knew" how to do the job?

    Posted by Danny Maier
    Danny Maier

    Written by Danny Maier

    Dan Maier offers fundraising counsel and strategic management for local and national nonprofits, YMCAs, camps, medical and social service organizations. He offers invaluable support to clients and their volunteer leadership as they look to enhance their development campaigns, prepare for crisis communications, strengthen their boards and more.

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