The fundraising job market has always been competitive for the best roles, so interview preparation is vital if you are to succeed. However, being a talented fundraiser does not mean you know how to best present your experience.

You have heard the standard, although no less essential, advice for interviews; dress well, prepare questions for the end, give examples to demonstrate experience, and so on. On top of these basics, I have compiled some more pointers to help you to stand out from the competition.

6 fundamental fundraising tips for your next interview

1. Remember your figures

Interviewers love percentages and ROI’s. Talk about year-on-year increases and income targets being met and exceeded. It demonstrates your commercial approach as well as your impact in post.

Example:

You can talk about how you ran a campaign which achieved a 3:1 return on investment, leading you to exceed your £250k yearly target by 18% (£45k), contributing to a year-on-year increase in income of 10%.

2. Talk about your individual achievements as well as your teamworking skills

It’s important to use ‘I’ as well as ‘we’. Don’t be afraid to take credit for the things you’ve worked on. At the same time, avoid sounding like too much of a lone wolf. Remember to also talk about times you’ve worked well in your team and cross-organisationally.

Example:

Instead of saying: ‘My team made a proposal to Historic England for funding and were successful in being awarded a £1 million grant.’

You could say: ‘I identified Historic England as a suitable target for a funding application and worked with my team to put together the proposal.’

Don’t be afraid to take credit for the things you’ve worked on.

3. Keep your answers related to the income stream (if possible)

If you’re interviewing for a corporate fundraising role, use as many corporate fundraising examples as possible. Candidates often use what they feel are their best examples rather than their most relevant ones. Remember the position you’re applying for.

For instance, if you are asked ‘Tell us about your experience of winning six-figure partnerships from corporate partners.’, we wouldn’t suggest answering with ‘I have made successful proposals to a number of organisations, and was recently successful in applying to XYZ trust for a £100,000 donation’. While no doubt impressive, your incredible background of trust fundraising is not what they’ve asked for.

If you don’t have experience in the income stream you’re applying for, try…

4. Or, translate your skills

If you’re looking to move sideways into a new income stream you can translate the skills and learning you have gained elsewhere. For example, there is crossover between corporate fundraising and community fundraising – managing stakeholders, agreeing on partnerships, value exchange, and so on.

Remember to always circle back to the income stream you’re being interviewed for, and keep your example as relevant as possible.

Example:

Question – ‘Tell us about how you have formed partnerships with national corporates’

Answer – ‘Whilst I don’t have direct experience of working with corporate partners, in my role as community fundraiser I regularly worked with staff at our local Morrisons to create a number of challenge events. This involved working with employees on the shop floor as well as getting buy-in from management.’

5. Remember the question and be concise

It’s tempting to talk and talk to really get your point across, but you have been asked a specific question so that is what you need to answer. The key pieces of information can get lost if you say too much.

Always keep the question in mind and make sure that’s what you’re answering. Take a moment to consider the question and ask for it to be rephrased if you feel unsure.

Develop the confidence to pause, take a breath, and consider your answer. If you need to hear the question again to make sure you’re on the right track, ask them to repeat it.

6. Be yourself

Interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences. It’s quite natural, but try where possible to get on top of those nerves. Breathe deeply, concentrate and be mindful of trying, where possible, to remain succinct with your answers. Be professional and be yourself. Feel free to let your personality come through. Don’t listen to any concerns you have about imposter syndrome.

All this will help you relax, come across naturally and establish if this is the right environment for you to flourish.

Breathe deeply, concentrate and be mindful of trying, where possible, to remain succinct with your answers.

Recruitment specialists aren’t just there for clients. We care deeply about our candidates and will always take the time to make sure you feel fully prepared before you go into interviews. If you want to discuss your career and your next move, please get in touch!


Josh Larkin is a Recruitment Consultant in our fundraising practice. With a background in fundraising himself, he knows all too well what you’re experiencing. Get in touch with him through LinkedIn or via email.