How to Keep Your Nonprofit Team From Quitting
Even before the pandemic, nonprofits had trouble keeping staff. Unfortunately, the situation that has transpired in 2020 only made things worse. However, it's essential to remember that philanthropy is a significant part of making sure everyone in our communities remains afloat — especially when tough times happen.
It's because of the increased pressures and needs for nonprofit services that board leaders and executive directors have to take a look at how to retain top-performing team members. As we all know when there's massive uncertainty, people will seek to hunker down and make sure they work where they are appreciated because they know it's going to be a long haul at the job. This period is no different.
Therefore, although some of the suggestions made in this article may seem counter intuitive, all of the recommendations are vital for nonprofit leaders. In essence, you want to treat your nonprofit team as you would your donors. So as the needs arise in your community, take a look at the three things you need to look at to ensure you retain the best talent.
1. It Always Begins With Leadership
During an unprecedented time, this is a crucial time for leadership. In other words, board members have to stop sniping at each other. And the senior management team has to get all hands on deck and pull in the same direction. Look, it's no secret that there's a perception of dysfunction in the nonprofit sector.
Nevertheless, whatever is happening at other nonprofits, you have to make sure that the leadership team at your organization operates on all cylinders right now. For instance, now's the time to ensure a great vision and excellent communication. Further, it's essential, especially in times of high stress, to remain consistent in the agreed-upon plan and respectful of everyone.
So now’s the time to make sure that your board and executives learn and master nonprofit leadership. If you happen to be a nonprofit leader, then take the initiative to share regular articles and content with the board and senior managers about leadership. The only way to understand leadership and develop it is to get immersed in the topic. Fortunately, there are many resources.
2. Money Matters
We understand what's happening in the economy and that our country is facing massive levels of unemployment. The easy answer is to cut your staff and reduce hours or salary. However, nonprofits already have a reputation for paying low wages. For decades, nonprofit teams have been told directly or indirectly that their reward comes in the work they provide in the community.
Sure, people enter the nonprofit sector, for the most part, because they want to make a difference in the world. However, salaries and paying people competitive wages has been a bone of contention for a long time. But nonprofits can do something that for-profit companies can't do without an investor, and that's to ask a major donor for a significant donation.
Even as millions of people have lost jobs, there’s at least one group that has made money — lots of it. It’s the billionaire class. Making money is great, but there is an opportunity to ask wealthy donors to support salaries, so you could ensure sustainability. But if you don't have major donors who could do that, then ask corporations or foundations for capacity-building grants. Now's the time not to close your doors or cut services. It's time to expand.
3. Communication Is Essential for Ensuring Your Success
During periods like this, exceptional communication is vital. In other words, this is the time where leaders have to rise to the challenge. People understand that things are tough. By sharing what's happening in your fundraising, assuming it's declined is not going to come as any surprise. However, there is a way to approach communication during this period.
In my shoe drive fundraising social enterprise, when the pandemic started in our country, I will share that I got very concerned. However, one thing that I made sure to do was to be frank with my team. In short, people want to know the truth of things. And after we got past the shock of what was happening, we got back to work.
We ended up recovering very quickly as nonprofits searched for a way to raise funds that didn’t involve asking for money or selling things. At this juncture, we’re adding more people to our team because we have so much business. I’m sharing this with you not to brag. The only reason we’re around and successful today is because everyone on my team heard the truth, and we came together as a team to succeed for ourselves and the nonprofit community.
In sum, those are three of the most important things you have to do as a board volunteer or executive to ensure with your nonprofit. Leadership, money and communication are the foundation for ensuring the sustainability of your nonprofit. If you pay attention to those elements, your nonprofit doors could remain open, and even grow. And that's a good thing because your community needs you.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, individuals and others raise funds, while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations and the environment.
You can learn more about Wayne and obtain free resources, including his books on his blog, Not Your Father’s Charity.