Nonprofit Leaders: Don’t Learn Lessons From the Great Resignation the Hard Way
At this point, I’m not sure what will get nonprofit leaders and managers to wake up.
Right now, frontline fundraisers (but really all workers) have the advantage.
What do I mean? In today’s business and nonprofit climate, the rank-and-file workforce has the advantage for demanding better pay, benefits and working conditions. And, for many workers, they are getting it.
But, while frontline fundraisers are finding better pay and benefits, many nonprofits are still expecting their fundraisers to do everything for everybody. I was researching on LinkedIn how nonprofit fundraisers were feeling about the job climate.
The No. 1 complaint out there is the expectations nonprofit leaders and managers had regarding what a frontline fundraiser is responsible for. Stories of job descriptions that were five to 10 pages long. First-year KPIs that are totally unrealistic and have no basis in reality for major gifts.
It’s almost like nonprofit leaders and managers are saying, “OK, yep, you may have the advantage right now in demanding higher pay and benefits, but since you’re getting that higher pay, I’m going to expect the impossible from you.”
Apparently forgetting, this is why frontline fundraisers have been leaving every 15 to 18 months for another position in the first place. We just have not learned our lesson.
The work of a frontline fundraiser is to develop relationships with donors, find out their passions and interests, and inspire them with offers that match those passions and interests.
Anything you’re asking your fundraisers to do outside of that work is hurting donors, revenue and the spirit of your fundraiser.
If you are a nonprofit leader or manager, you have the chance right now to reset your mid-level, major and planned giving fundraising programs. Richard likes to use the phrase, “just zero base everything.”
What would you do if you could start over and re-imagine how you run your one-to-one fundraising programs? Besides offering competitive pay and benefits, make it simple. Provide your staff with:
- One-page job descriptions.
- KPIs that measure the right things. Frontline fundraising is about creating meaningful relationships with donors first, and that it takes time.
- Metrics that incentivize fundraisers to move donors through the pipeline.
- Administrative support so that your fundraisers have more time with donors, and less time on paperwork.
- Ongoing management that provides clear direction, accountability, focus and frequent coaching to help your fundraiser be successful.
- Encouragement and celebration of your fundraiser as they continue to deepen relationships with donors.
This shouldn’t be a lesson you have to learn the hard way. When you hire the right people, give them the resources to do their job well, and provide the right kind of environment for your frontline fundraisers — they’ll stay with you, they’ll have the time to build those donor relationships and your organization’s revenue will soar.
You, as a leader and manager, have an amazing opportunity right now. Don’t squander it out of fear that you will be taken advantage of by your employee. Commit to making these changes today.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.