Hiring (or Becoming!) the Perfect Remote Employee

As alumni and friends become more dispersed across the country, several advancement offices at colleges and universities are hiring more remote gift officers — regional employees charged with cultivating donors in specific areas. That means the ability to hire and keep quality remote gift officers and professionals has never been more important.

During the AFP 2018 International Conference on Fundraising (ICON) earlier this year in New Orleans, one of the 90 educational sessions — presentations that covered all aspects of professional fundraising and nonprofit management — was on “Finding Your Perfect Remote Employee.” The issue seems to be a growing priority for most fundraising organizations.

The ICON presentation featured a discussion with Amy Wolfe, president and CEO of AgSafe, an organization that, among other things, provides human resources solutions for the food and farming industries. She was joined by AgSafe’s director of business services and industry relations, Natalie Gupton.

Throughout their discussion, Wolfe and Gupton offered ideas about everything from conducting a “needs assessment” for your development team — identifying the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to build the best team with remote employees. They also covered the actual hiring and managing of remote employees.

While assessing a development team’s needs, they recommend starting with good hiring fundamentals. This means determining essential components like the knowledge, skill and abilities the candidate or candidates should have while keeping in mind important qualities like experience, attitude, work habits and what would constitute as a good “culture fit.”

After assessing need, it’s crucial to “describe it just right,” Wolfe and Gupton say. Translate requirements into a clear, functional job description that includes priorities (knowledge, skills abilities or work experience) and avoids falling into what they call “the jargon trap.” Specificity is crucial for any good job description.

During the search process, they recommend making it a team effort for your staff, especially for those who will be working with the remote employee regularly. Create a good interview environment, ask solid questions and determine what testing should be done.

Once the employee has been hired, it’s important to create a culture that sets them (and the whole team) up for success. This is often a matter of management style — avoiding “the micro-management trap,” evaluating constantly, keeping communication lines open and being sure to celebrate successes.

Working in a different time zone, a remote employee can often feel a disconnect from the rest of their team. Neutralize these challenges through clear communication, tracking productivity, establishing trust and, whenever possible, letting them share in your team’s comradery.

Do you want more information on hiring and keeping remote gift officers? The slides from the ICON presentation can serve as a good outline. Visit our recent blog “Handouts From ICON ’18” to find more details on “Finding Your Perfect Remote Employee.” You can download the slides along with a sample job description, a sample self-evaluation and sample interview questions.

By Kevin Hyde, Senior Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed