How Not to Lose a Critical Asset: Retaining Your Staff
Just last week, two people I know landed new jobs in the not-for-profit field. I also received several job postings for fundraising positions in my region. It doesn't always seem like it, but hiring is alive and well in the nonprofit community, and some of your staff may be looking at options — or even be approached first about a tempting new opportunity.
The lament of nonprofit managers frequently is, "We can't pay enough to be competitive." Yet many people I know switch jobs for the same or less pay, or at most, for only a small increase. For some, certainly more money is a motivator. But if we don't look past our pay scale to other factors, we are missing possible ways to retain valuable staff.
Gathering information at exit interviews is not always a reliable way to determine why a person is leaving, either. Many departing staffers figure they shouldn't burn any bridges, so they tell you what is expected but not why they are really leaving.
Following are reasons (beyond money) why people I know have left one nonprofit for another or left the nonprofit space altogether for work in the for-profit sector. Evaluating your organization by these measures may help you make small changes that can increase tenures of valuable team members.
No discernible career path
Too often, we're consumed with the urgent in nonprofits. We need to raise money now or respond to a crisis that impacts our target population. Things like annual reviews, career pathing and training on new skills get pushed back — sometimes never to resurface again.
Personally, in 30 years of work for nonprofits, I had fewer than 10 annual reviews, and less than half of those were more than perfunctory meetings saying in essence, "You're doing fine; now go do more of it."
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.