Common questions about nonprofit executive searches for Executive Directors and Fundraising/Development Directors


Q: We’d love help with our Executive Director/Development Director search, but can we afford it?

You can’t afford not to.

Other than its mission, having an effective Executive Director is the most important factor in running a successful nonprofit.  It truly does come down to having “good people.”

An excellent Executive Director will strengthen operations, community relationships, staff retention, fundraising, board governance and all other aspects of nonprofits.  Mediocre leadership will negatively impact all areas.  The fees you pay for an Executive Director search are an investment that will return many times over in just a few years.  Remember, you’re not just filling a position — you’re building capacity for your organization.

Fundraising positions are a straight investment.  Finding an excellent Development Director or Hospital Foundation VP will result in hundreds of thousands of dollars for your organization annually.

Q: Can’t we sort through the resumes ourselves?

Sure. But the best candidates probably aren’t hiding in that pile.

Many highly-qualified candidates do not send in resumes. They’re not actively looking for a new position. It takes networking with nonprofit peers and face-to-face contact before they will even consider applying for the position. That’s why our nationwide contacts, telephone inquiries and personal visits are so important.

Q: Why not just use the H.R. department?

We probably don’t need to tell you that H.R. departments are already overstretched. They do not have the time, contacts or expertise to conduct a comprehensive search for professional nonprofit leaders and fundraisers.

They’re not able to do the kind of active search that we do—conducting research, making calls on your behalf, meeting candidates, and identifying the best person for your position. We’re comfortable asking tough questions and we often get answers that are more revealing because we’re an outside firm. Most importantly, we understand the dynamics of nonprofits so we can help you make smart hiring decisions.

Q: What about using a board volunteer committee?

Board committees are a critical part of the hiring process. They need ownership in the decision and can provide valuable feedback when selecting from several finalists. However, using them to screen candidates is a mistake. Often, they  will identify individuals who are known in the community, but these individuals may not be good candidates for the position.  A well known name does not necessarily translate into a great nonprofit executive. Your volunteer committee should meet with only the final pool of qualified candidates.

Q: How long will it take?

Your search will last as long as it takes to find an excellent candidate. However, most searches are completed in two to three months.

See our recently completed searches and read what our clients have to say.