Acing Your Nonprofit Fundraising Interview

Are you looking to level up your philanthropy/fundraising interview skills? READ ON. If you become a different person under stress- maybe you freeze- maybe you fawn- maybe you disassociate, you are not alone! And this can be affecting how you interview.

Nonprofit fundraising interview

Over the last 3 years of the pandemic, we have all created different coping mechanisms. Some are conscious, and some are unconscious. A lot of us have gotten more anxious, more worried, more prone to numbing behaviors. We’ve been watching the news and living with the threat of dying for breathing the wrong air for a long time. And if you feel more anxious, I am right there with you. Right now I’ll share some tools with you for not just keeping it together during your fundraising interview, but actually starting to build good experiences into your interview that will help you feel more relaxed and comfortable each time you do it.

These are my most popular videos on youtube, and some of the most important parts of my book, Get the Job, Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide.

First things first- How to feel better in an uncomfortable situation

I can give you all of the intellectual reasons in the world while you should feel safe, but let’s face it. You need to make your animal body feel safe FIRST. So what makes you feel safe?

In the video below, I talk about how I make my body feel safe before an interview and during an interview.

You might have different things that you do. Make a list of things that make you feel safe. Or if you can’t think of something, choose from the list below.

  • 1. Drinking a hot drink
  • 2. Taking a walk
  • 3. Wrapping yourself in a blanket
  • 4. Deep breathing/EFT Tapping
  • 5. Praying/Meditating
  • 6. Drawing
  • 7. Playing with a fidget spinner or other tactile support, like climber’s putty
  • 8. Looking around the room, noticing the corners, the feeling of the light coming in, what sound you can hear. Arriving in the space.
  • 9. Taking a break from news/your phone in the morning
  • 10. Listening to relaxing music
  • 11. Laying in your bed under a big blanket
  • 12. Contemplating a beautiful image
  • 13. Re-reading one of your favorite books
  • 14. Moving your body in a way that feels comfortable to you. Maybe stretching or dancing.
  • 15. If you are on the spectrum, you might find being squeezed under a weighted blanket helps, or stopping all stimulus that you find overwhelming (like smell, sound, touch).

Self care isn’t for special occasions.

It’s for all the time. In fact, as Dr. Devon Price says, self care as a concept is a complete misnomer. Only capitalism could make us productize just simply taking care of ourselves, and make it seem like a luxury. It’s not. It’s essential, not just for every week, but for every day, whenever you need it.

How to start the fundraising interview off on the right foot.

I want you to feel safe not just before the interview, but feel safe DURING the interview. Here are some tools from my toolbox that help me feel safe IN an interview.

  • 1. Remind yourself, there was a time before I had a job, and there will be a time after it. I still have value whether or not I have a job.
  • 2. Feeling your feet on the ground, whether you’re on zoom or in person, can be helpful. Feeling each toe. Feeling the sensation of your sock on your foot. Or the shoe holding your foot.
  • 3. Belly breathing. We fall into shallow chest breathing when we’re freaked out. So, focus on your belly, and feel it expanding.
  • 4. Pause before answering a question. Do not ask, “Did that make sense?” at the end of the answer, because that can make people think you are unsure of yourself.
  • 5. Practice the questions they might ask you. What questions are typical for fundraising interviews? Watch the short video above, where I give you some of the most common questions from my book, Get the Job, Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide

Your nonprofit interview is the first stage of teaching people how to treat you.

It’s probably one of the most important moments in your nonprofit career, to set the tone for how you expect to be treated.

Most of us end up fawning in the interview, trying to contort ourselves and chameleonize ourselves into being the person they seem to want us to be.

And of course, capitalism has made us this way.

We need money to live! Sometimes we’ve been encouraged to trauma-bond in our nonprofits which makes this worse. So if you do this, please know this is absolutely not your fault and something that is a survival mechanism that has served you well. It’s up to you if you want to feel out a different way to be in the interview.

How can you be more authentic and have good boundaries in the interview?

Fundraising Interview Questions YOU should ask THEM

Remember, this is a TWO WAY interview.

You have questions you need to ask them, too. In this age of people continuing to be in denial about COVID still affecting us, you need clarity. If they say the job is remote, ask, “Is there a chance it will go to hybrid?” Or, “Is leadership starting to require people come to the office?”

Check out this video below for 6 culture questions that help you ascertain if this will be a good place for you to work or not. These are useful because if you’re feeling worried that the culture will not support you, you can figure out what the culture is, right from these questions. (assuming they don’t lie!) But even if they don’t have answers to these questions, that can be very revealing as well.

I think the best question from this video is: “How do you celebrate what’s working here?” But there are more.

  • 2. How willing are people to help each other?
  • 3. Who will I learn from and how?
  • 4. What do you do when things get stressful?
  • 5. How do you address conflict here?

How to make the most of your interview when you’re used to settling for scraps?

You have a lot more power than you think. And there are lots more questions in my book, Get the Job, Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide, that can help you understand where their fundraising program is at.

If you have a hard time asking for what you need at work, that is a pattern that can be fixed.

If you have difficulty with boundaries, you are absolutely normal.

Join me in the Asking for More Mastermind, whether you’re working full time or looking for work.

You’ll learn strategies to ask for more in every area of your life.

Don’t fall into martyr mode. It’s really not worth it. And I address this all in my book, Get the Job, Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide.

If you want to Stop SETTLING in your nonprofit life, then you can start right now.

Book a quick call and tell me what you’re working on.

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