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Phil Cooke Podcast

Jul 8, 2020

Hiring at your church or nonprofit organization? If you’re looking for a donor development or marketing person or even a media producer, hiring from the for-profit world or Hollywood may not be your best choice. Here’s insight from Phil Cooke that will help leaders hire well.


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Do you have a message or story the world needs to hear? As a Hollywood producer and media consultant, I offer advice for leaders and creatives each week on filmmaking, digital media, publishing, strategy, communication, leadership, culture and faith – to help you get from where you are to where you want to be in your career.

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**More about this episode: ** Be Careful Hiring For-Profit Employees in the Non-Profit World

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When economic problems hit the business world, or executive careers get in trouble, we often see a flood of people from the business world looking for jobs in the non-profit and religious sector. But before you jump at the chance to hire a highly regarded executive from the for-profit world at your church, ministry, or non-profit organization, here are a few things to consider:


1)  The business models are dramatically different. To switch from selling products retail or wholesale to donor development is a big leap.  It requires a completely different mindset. Just because you successfully ran a division at IBM or Paramount Pictures doesn’t necessarily mean you can transition to non-profits.


2)  Non-profits don’t have the cushy perks businesses have. We turn our own lights off, our benefit plans are smaller, and most important – our resources aren’t as big. 


3)  The non-profit world is a calling and career, not just a “bridge” until you get another “real” job. Too many executives think that during difficult times they can just jump into a church or ministry job for the short term. 


4)  We work long hours too. But we don’t have the incentive of bonus pay (even overtime), or a car service to take us home after hours.


5)  Sure you did the occasional pro-bono TV spot at the big agency in New York, but every spot we do has a micro or zero budget. Can you negotiate vendors down to nothing, work with college interns, or maintain equipment with rubber bands and bailing wire?


6)  Is there something you’re not telling us? I have trouble believing that if you’re REALLY a successful Hollywood producer or business leader, you actually want to come and work for our church’s media department. 


Don’t get me wrong.  I’m thrilled that people value non-profits enough to want to help.  But the truth is, over the last 10 years – and especially during a financial crisis – I’ve seen numerous big time executives switch to non-profits with catastrophic results. 


Pastor, ministry leader, or non-profit executive – take the stars out of your eyes.  You work in a specialty field that takes a special kind of experience, discernment, and expertise. Don’t always assume that a Hollywood producer, advertising agency whiz, or former Wall Street hot shot will get it.  Chances are, they won’t.


Maybe we should think the other way around.  If non-profit leaders ran Wall Street, I doubt we’d have so many financial problems to begin with…