On a Scale of 0 to 10, How Appreciated Do You Feel in Your Job?
Genuine, wholehearted appreciation trumps money, benefits and an epic job title. Because at the heart of it is the idea that you enjoy coming into work every day. Sure, a job is a job, but a cheerfully positive outlook on the space where you spend the majority of your day-to-day shouldn’t feel like a novel concept.
I’ve got loads of stories. So my regular readers probably remember my “I cried for the donor” story, involving the unfortunate disaster that was my employment at a renowned organization with a complete and total disregard for the very donors who made its work possible. This negligence from the tragically oblivious was so in-your-face that it was borderline offensive, even back then, before I knew what I know now.
Would it surprise you to learn that this particular organization had an unusually high staff turnover as well? Yet it maintained a passionate donor base, primarily filled with women—women with fond girlhood memories, their mothers and even their grandmothers, who’d witnessed this organization’s wonderful work across generations.
But still, the whole high staff turnover thing was impossible to miss if you were on the inside like I was.
This nonprofit is equipped with serious global appeal and reach. But small organizations, in particular, need to be aware of their employees’ job satisfaction. “Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising,” released a few years ago, revealed a sobering and shocking reality: 57 percent of development directors working at organizations with budgets under $1 million planned on leaving within one year.
Fifty-seven percent! Say what?!
Research shows us that the mere act of thinking about leaving your job is closely related to your level of job satisfaction. If you care about your organization from the inside out (and you must), then it goes without saying: You care about your workplace’s culture. This means that you want everyone in your organization to be excited about coming to work. If the opposite is true, the culture will suffer, and the turnover rate will reflect it. You’ll be feeling it, and everyone else on board your ship will, too. Doesn’t your own work positively hum along when you’re feeling appreciated, when your positive achievements are acknowledged?
Unsurprisingly, there’s a relationship between employee engagement and donor satisfaction, as the former impacts the latter. This is especially true for small- to mid-sized nonprofits. When you’re reaching out to your supporters from a place of joy and love, your interactions will reflect it, and the same is true if those things are noticeably absent. Either way, your donors will feel it.
In “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People,” the authors, Gary Chapman and Paul White, delve into why appreciation is so necessary in the cultivation of a happy workplace.
Appreciation language encompasses both verbal and physical interaction. It includes words, quality time, acts of service, tangible gifts and physical touch. The thing is, everyone feels love (or appreciation) differently, because they’re individual experiences. Those who respond best to the language of words may appreciate being praised in public, while others prefer the privacy of one-on-one. Can you remember a time during the past week when you gave a coworker some verbal affirmation? How did he or she respond to it?
How can you help to create an atmosphere of appreciation within your workplace, in turn contributing to a workplace culture of positivity? Take a few cues from my readers.
I know what you mean by appreciation. After every event or big mailing, I send a handwritten thank-you note to the volunteers—they seem to keep coming back. Also, at every board meeting, my boss always thanks me for my work after I give my report.
I am so lucky to work in an environment of appreciation!
And Brenda wrote:
Thanks! You nailed it, again. Your email is just what I needed this morning. I’m still in my first 90 days with a new organization—one that appreciates me much more than the last one I worked for. As a member of the leadership staff, I’m always looking for no- or low-cost ways to show staff how much they are appreciated. We’re a medical and dental organization with many varying staff roles, so it’s a challenge to make sure everyone feels appreciated. Thanks for keeping me up-to-date on new, relevant and creative resources that help to make me and my organization successful!
I am so excited to have learned about this book! I have read the “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” and it was so eye-opening. My current workplace has significant turnover, and our employee satisfaction needs a huge boost. We are currently in the planning phase of a quarterly meeting for our directors, and we are having a hard time figuring out what these meetings [will] look like because our leadership team is having a hard time agreeing on what things we can put into place to start addressing our areas that need improvement. I suggested we order this book for all the directors and do a book study and that be the premise of the meetings for now, until we have come to a conclusion about what we can do from the top down to improve employee morale. I can’t wait to read this book to grow personally and professionally.
Always remember, too, to take a good look in the mirror. Whenever I’m feeling unappreciated, I always make it a point to appreciate those around me in ways that matter to them. Because when you bestow appreciation upon others, it tends to come back to you full-circle. It’s characteristically a contagious, reciprocal thing.
You’re here to change the world, right? And it’s my sacred mission to help you do it. That’s a mission that goes beyond fundraising, in my opinion. Way beyond. It’s life changing. It’s a mission that, at its very core, has a heart of love, gratitude, and a deep appreciation for each other and our donors. Because being a part of a healthy, high-functioning organization is vital if you want to feel fulfilled at work.
Genuine, positive change from the inside, along with a culture shift, won’t happen overnight. These are long-term goals that you need to work toward collectively, involving each and every person tied to your organization.
These things take time, dedication and persistence—not to mention mutual understanding. So keep on fighting the good fight, because it’s worth fighting for.
Pamela Grow is the publisher of The Grow Report, the author of Simple Development Systems and the founder of Simple Development Systems: The Membership Program and Basics & More fundraising fundamentals e-courses. She has been helping small nonprofits raise dramatically more money for over 15 years, and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by Civil Society magazine, and one of the 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants by The Michael Chatman Giving Show.