We often hear about #donorlove, but what about #stafflove? In this episode, Mazarine, leadership coach and founder of Wild Woman Fundraising, teaches us about the importance of improving our staff experience and in turn, they will ensure that our donors have a great experience too!
your staff are your foundation
In the business world, empowering your staff to do good work is crucial to the customer experience. If we really care about keeping our donors, why are we not looking at how we treat our staff to keep them?
It’s so easy to focus on everything that donors need, but we can’t leave those who take care of them behind. Turnover in Canada ranges from six to 12 months for a fundraiser! Giving our staff a good work environment to thrive results in greater donor experiences, great client experiences and our ability as an organization to do great work.
#Stafflove is the foundation for your organization to provide good donor love practices.
how to celebrate your staff
Showing your appreciation for your staff can be really fun and easy too! A great question to ask yourself is: “how do you celebrate what’s working here?” Every little win is a big win in a nonprofit organization. Whether it’s a grant or a new monthly donor, don’t forget to celebrate your program staff by thanking them during a staff meeting. Some organizations keep champagne in the fridge for celebrating things but if that’s not your thing, you can also host a team appreciation potluck.
Another great way, especially if you’re thanking an individual, is to give them a card with a note that says how much you appreciate them, congratulating them on an achievement or noticing something they did that made a difference to your organization. Don’t be afraid to get a silly card to put a smile on their face!
If you’re having a staff meeting, you can try this activity out as a group: give everyone a piece of paper and have them write their names at the very top. Then have them fold it and pass it to the next person to write a compliment before folding or “hiding” it to remain anonymous. Then have them pass it to the next person and so forth. By the time everyone gets their papers back, it would be full of folds and hidden compliments. Your staff will love seeing what others think about their strengths and maybe even bring light to things they didn’t notice about themselves!
Don’t forget to also thank your volunteers as well! When you show interest or appreciation in a volunteer, you help them feel more deeply connected to your case and will motivate them to work harder for you. Simply saying “you did an amazing job organizing that event, thank you” goes a long way! The more personalized you can make it, the more meaningful it will be to them.
No matter which method(s) you do, acknowledging and celebrating those wins will energize and motivate your staff to keep up the great work that they do!
let’s talk about time off
It’s common to feel like you have to be at your desk - regardless of how productive you are. Needing a mental health day is often scrutinized which can make the environment can feel toxic especially if they feel like they’re not trusted to do their work if they’re away from their desk. How can we expect our staff to be motivated if they aren’t in an environment that doesn’t support them?
Whether it’s maternity or paternity leave, or flexible hours, there are many ways to create an environment where people feel trusted to do the work that they’re doing - which makes them actually want to do the work.
Sometimes, personalities don’t mesh well and conflict happens. It’s crucial to help our staff name and claim what’s going on and then put policies in place to allow everyone to have dignity at work. It’s really important to take a step back and review your interactions and recognize whether or not you’re treating your colleagues with respect. Often, we may find ourselves accidentally taking any personal issues from home to work without even noticing!
Ever hear the phrase, “people leave their bosses, not their jobs?”
Bosses can also become bullies without even recognizing it! Ever felt like you never connected well with your boss? Or noticed that turnover is high and people keep leaving? These are red flags that your boss may be a bully - or if you are the boss, that you may be one! It’s a very hard thing to acknowledge when we’re mistreating those around us, but it’s something we need to do as leaders to become better.
the cost of losing an employee
We’re always concerned about how to get more money, but not necessarily the value of things we currently have and the cost we’ll pay if we lose them. This makes us more reactive than responsive.
Take note of the cost of losing an employee, especially being in the non-profit sector. It costs about $55,000 to lose one person you’re paying $50,000 - that’s over 110% of what you’re actually paying them! If you measure this up, assuming you have turnover every year which is common in Canada, you lose $190,000 over the course of three years. In four years, this increases to over $400,000.*
These figures get even larger if they held a position as something like the Major Gifts role for the last four years running, and this doesn’t even include donor relationships, both current and potential, that this person could have raised. Then once you’ve lost that employee, you need to hire someone new and get them up to speed by training them - it really adds up!
When we see people leaving or disappearing overnight, it can be very unmotivating and work can quickly feel like a hostile environment. We need to be less reactive and look at the ways we can save money in a systematic way. If we want to make the world a better place, we need to start with us.
yes, pay is important too
If we want to keep our staff, we also need to pay them adequately. Although we may not have the largest budgets to work with, we must always strive to provide staff with living wages. Not only would your staff be more committed to staying in the organization, but they will also provide you with better work and come motivated.
Money is important and is needed to live, so it makes sense that organizations should pay their staff livable wages. If we’re holding ourselves up as role models for what the corporate and government sectors should do, we need to pay attention to how much people are getting paid fairly.
We also need to acknowledge the role that systemic oppression has shaped our society and consequently our work environments. It can make us pay people too little, undervalue them and not promote people because of our biases.
If we hold ourselves up as the ethical standard for other sectors, it only makes sense that we acknowledge these learned biases, do our part to unlearn them and put policies and systems into place that provide a safer work environment for everyone.
ditch your mandatory staff giving
After listening to various perspectives on mandatory staff giving, one basic issue arises: “if we already exclude our staff enough, why would we want to make them give to our nonprofit as well?”
Mazarine completely agrees. Mandatory staff giving does not create an atmosphere of trust, nor does it recognize that staff aren’t being paid a huge amount of money and may not be in a position to give a certain amount of money. When you have staff who may not have enough money for groceries themselves and may rely on a credit card, it doesn’t make sense to force them to give.
Instead, give your staff the option to give if they are passionate and are in a position to do so. Your goal is to create an environment that makes it easy for staff to give so that they are inspired and excited to do so - but also aren’t expected to if they can’t.
If you hold your mission in the highest regard, why not do good things for the people that are part of that and make it happen. Have private conversations with staff and ask them how this organization can be better for them - or provide them with an outlet to anonymously give feedback. Your organization is only as strong as the pieces in it - be sure to take care of each and every important part!
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The Small Nonprofit podcast is produced by Eloisa Jane Mariano
*dollar amounts are described in USD.