Supporting recruitment for a highly niche role

Operation Mobilisation

“Both Victoria and David were very humble and very careful in what they did. Our expectations were very high but they handled it well. They were very diplomatic and professional. Even more commendable is that they were able to work with us, understanding that, as stewards of a Christian missionary charity, we are limited as to the salary we can pay, whilst still hopeful of recruiting the highest calibre of candidate. I have the upmost admiration for them and am very grateful for the work they have done.”

Chris Lawley, UK Director of Fundraising and Communications, Operation Mobilisation

Operation Mobilisation (OM) is a global Christian mission organisation. The UK branch has been operating for 60 years and today has over 275 missionaries posted in over 45 countries and aboard OM’s fleet of ships.

In 2021, David Saint helped OM’s Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer (USA and Global), John Cerniglia, and International Fundraising Director, Carlton Geake, to deliver four webinars on Major Gifts Fundraising. We subsequently carried out a capital appeal feasibility study and strategic fundraising review, in which we highlighted the need to hire a major giving professional to support the delivery of OM’s 10-year strategic plan to see 25,000 new vibrant communities of Jesus followers annually by 2030.

In 2023 we were asked to work with OM to recruit a Major Gifts Manager.

Our brief was to support the hiring of a ‘world-class’ professional fundraiser to support the successful delivery of OM’s 10-year plan. The successful candidate needed to be a resilient trailblazer, with a pioneering spirit, capable of delivering on ambitious financial targets and working cross-culturally with a complex mix of stakeholders, and able to support OM’s global presence. They also needed to be a committed Christian.

We assigned Victoria Fafalios to the case. With her extensive background in operations and HR within the charity sector, we knew she would have the experience to navigate the complexities of working across three international offices – OM Global, OM International and OM UK – and managing the nuanced dynamics of their different approaches to fundraising.

Creating this new professional fundraising role was a significant cultural shift for OM and required a considered and supportive approach to instil confidence and alignment across the three organisations. Victoria facilitated this collaboration to design a role that would deliver on their strategy. She met the client Chris Lawley, UK Director of Fundraising and Communications, along with John and Carlton, every couple of weeks to manage expectations and build confidence.

Once the role was designed, Victoria took it to market across an extensive range of media, including social media and proactive networking, as well as use of an innovative selection of job boards to reach into a variety of selection pools. She used a push-pull approach: pushing into the various pools and reaching into the market through job boards, LinkedIn and the Action Planning network, as well as targeted headhunting to pull in identified candidates.

“The job pack was very high quality,” said Chris. “We’re taking in some of the ideas for our own job packs.”

Victoria handled the applications, set up interviews, designed and wrote the interview questions and spent time with the short-listed candidates to assess their cultural fit. She succeeded in putting forward three strong candidates who met all the criteria.

A strategically critical role that had been years in the conception was brought to fruition with a successful appointment after just one round of marketing.

“The lady we employed, Sarah, is exceptional,” said Chris. “Since she started she’s been doing a lot of research, has been on a couple of trips, mixing with the right people, learning all the systems and so on. All the signs are good.”

Consultant’s insight
Essentially this was an international team effort across three OM charities, where Action Planning identified the need, supported the building of the business case, the design of the role and the successful delivery of the recruit, working with OM from conception right through to recruitment and selection.

My experience in working across international offices was helpful in managing the complexities of satisfying the different approaches to fundraising that exist culturally between the UK and US. With OM Global funding the role, they had to be satisfied with the candidate, as did OM UK as the direct client.

In the area of fundraising, where the candidate pool is limited, I am well-versed in identifying and recruiting competent professionals. This task is further compounded when specific occupational requirements are added to the role, such as OM’s requirement for a committed Christian. I was able to draw on my experience in the faith-based charity sector to effectively support the design of the role, and screen the shortlist candidates, such that they all aligned with the organisational needs.

Find out how we can help you with your Christian Charity Recruitment