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Mayes Wilson & Associates

Inclusive hiring for the development team

Julie Whelan Capell |

After reading Sara’s excellent three-part series on equitable hiring practices I realized there was more to say, specifically related to inclusive hiring for the development team.

Anyone who’s been in fundraising for more than a minute or two knows that most fundraisers are white. In fact, in 2019, only about 13% of the nearly 10,000 members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) self-identified as non-white

What are you doing to get out of your hiring comfort zone?

There is much wringing of hands over this state of affairs, but not a lot has changed in the 30+ years I have been a fundraiser. Part of the problem is that some of the fixes would require those of us in leadership roles to leave our comfort zones and do things in a new way.

For example, including salary ranges when posting a new job opportunity in your development department. As Sara noted in her series, disclosing salary ranges for jobs is considered a DEI best practice. When salary ranges are kept secret, that can reinforce salary gap inequities that have grown up over time. Such inequities often favor men over women and whites over people of color. Posting the salary also makes it more likely that a fair salary will be achieved regardless of a candidate’s ability to negotiate.

It’s nice to see that the national website of AFP requires salary ranges for all new positions posted on its Job Board. However, my local AFP chapter does not (guess what my next call is going to be after finishing this post?).

If you’re balking at posting your salary ranges, wait till you see some of the other suggestions I have for how to make your next development office hire through a DEI lens.


Have you ever thought about hiring staff with no formal fundraising experience? “We avoid asking for credentials like specific academic degrees or years of experience, because those aren’t the things we actually need, and requiring them might lead us to overlook amazing candidates or discourage some from applying,” says Mordy Walfish, COO of Leading Edge in a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy article. Program alumni are one good place to look for new hires that are more reflective of your client base.


To go beyond simply telling job candidates about your organization’s commitment to DEI, have them meet with other staff during the recruitment process. This gives the job candidate a chance to evaluate for themselves whether or not inclusion is baked into the way you do things.


Consider having multiple staff review each job candidate separately (use a rubric!) before talking about them in a group setting. This helps avoid group think and will allow for more perspectives on each potential hire.


Asking a job applicant to create products for you, such as a case statement or appeal letters or ideas for improving your website, is not only inappropriate, it is illegal. If your organization gains a benefit from work done by a job candidate, then that candidate needs to be compensated the way you would compensate a consultant. Noted nonprofit pundit Vu Le has more to say about this along with other, more provocative suggestions for improving hiring practices here .


If you’re not hiring people with tons of fundraising experience, then the key is to invest in training and support for these newbie fundraisers. During the hiring process, explain your commitment to pay staff for formal training, such as conferences and workshops, and also for time spent shadowing more experienced fundraisers.

Sara has many more excellent tips on DEI in the hiring process. I encourage you to read all three of her posts on the subject:

As the current cohort of (mostly white) fundraisers begin to age out of the profession, we have a perfect opportunity to advance opening up the ranks. Getting out of our hiring comfort zone might take work, but the payoff in terms of getting the best new hires will be worth it.


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