Man and woman sitting at a conference room table having a conversation
Graphic that shows three different types of interview questions you should be asking.

Use these questions to identify a candidate’s technical knowledge and abilities

Use these questions to determine how a candidate handled situations in the past

Use these questions to assess a candidate’s personal traits and cognitive skills

Why this matters

Building relationships with new donors is an important part of fundraising. You need to know that your new hire will be able to quickly familiarize themselves with the surrounding community, research prospective donors, and get to know them. They also need to make sure donors feel valued to maintain the relationship over time.

What to listen for

  • Specific methods for finding prospects, like reading annual reports from similar organizations and leveraging existing networks.
  • Examples drawn from previous fundraising experience.
  • Strong answers will also touch on effectively—and regularly—communicating with potential donors.

Why this matters

Fundraisers are increasingly relying on the web to connect with donors. The ideal candidate will understand how to reach new audiences, build credibility, and broadcast updates online. If your fundraiser has experience executing digital marketing or fundraising campaigns, you’ll likely see greater results.

What to listen for

  • An understanding of the growing role digital fundraising is playing in the field.
  • Ideally, they’ll mention examples of how they used newsletters, social media, and blogs to reach donors.
  • A proven track record of designing and implementing successful digital strategies is a plus.

Why this matters

Charitable events can generate sizable revenue for mission-driven organizations. Part of the fundraiser’s job is to organize and execute these events. If the candidate has prior experience orchestrating large-scale fundraisers, managing budgets, and recruiting keynote speakers, they may be better equipped to help future events at your organization run smoothly.

What to listen for

  • An understanding of the resources required to run a large fundraising event.
  • Details of the necessary steps involved, from set-up to sales.
  • Answers should closely align with the mission and values of your organization, showing they’ve done their research.

Why this matters

Fundraisers typically collaborate with board members and executives to meet fundraising goals. Together, they find the best way to translate the organization's core mission to potential donors. Board members also tend to have extensive professional networks, which can be highly valuable to fundraisers in search of prospects.

What to listen for

  • A keen understanding of the role board members play in fundraising.
  • A positive attitude toward working with the board of directors.
  • Strong candidates may also mention the importance of keeping busy board members focused on fundraising tasks.

Why this matters

Winning over donors requires a lot of persistence. The fundraiser has to convince the prospect that the organization’s mission is worthwhile and that their gift will contribute to this mission. If the candidate is easily discouraged, they may have a difficult time securing donations for the organization. But it’s also important to recognize when to throw in the towel to avoid wasting time.

What to listen for

  • Specific tactics for making prospects feel valued—and confident that their gift will be put to good use.
  • Top answers will demonstrate resilience and a determination to win over prospects.
  • Evidence that the candidate knows when to keep going and when to refocus their efforts.

Why this matters

Successful fundraising campaigns require strategy, but even calculated efforts don’t always go according to plan. If the candidate’s most recent campaign wasn’t the success they envisioned, ideally they’ll have spent time reflecting on what they could do differently to secure a better outcome in the future.

What to listen for

  • Knowledge of how to launch a productive campaign and an understand of potential challenges.
  • Candidates should be able to speak to the specific role they played in executing the campaign.
  • A willingness to admit mistakes, if applicable.

Why this matters

Fundraisers often have to recruit and organize teams of volunteers to assist with charitable events for their organization. Not only will this question demonstrate the candidate’s leadership potential, but also their aptitude for working effectively with other people—a key soft skill in fundraising.

What to listen for

  • A collaborative approach.
  • Top answers will show the candidate is able to take charge and rally people.
  • If a candidate is just starting out in their fundraising career, they may draw from previous work experience or their time at school.

Why this matters

Fundraisers need to possess close attention to detail and an ability to keep personal information about donors well organized. Poor organizational skills can slow productivity and even result in vital data being lost. It’s also important for candidates to ensure that sensitive information, such as donor’s phone numbers, is never placed where it could be seen by inappropriate parties.

What to listen for

  • Signs that the candidate is highly organized in all aspects of their work.
  • Mentions of specific methods for tracking and organizing donor information, such as using spreadsheets or databases.
  • Acknowledgement of the necessity to protect sensitive data.

Why this matters

Fundraisers are responsible for communicating the organization’s mission to potential donors, which requires excellent communication skills and genuine passion for the cause. If a fundraiser believes in the mission and cares strongly about, they’ll find it easier to get others to believe in it, too.

What to listen for

  • Passion for the organization’s mission.
  • Strong storytelling skills.
  • The best answers will be highly specific, indicating that the candidate either did their research or was already familiar with and passionate about the organization.