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Employee Engagement & Donor Engagement: 5 Strategies for Growing Organizations

Like many nonprofits, there’s a lot of effort that goes into the mission of the organization. You and your team spend months planning and organizing events, and coming up with creative ways to cultivate and retain donors. Not to mention working on your corporate gift programs, grant writing, and building relationships with community partners. Nonprofit work can be fulfilling, yet tiresome, sacrificial and emotionally draining. 

According to the Engaging the Nonprofit Workforce Report from Opportunity Knocks (now Work For Good), greater than 50% of nonprofit employees feel “used up”, tired and run down at the end of the day. Additionally, 62% of nonprofit employees that are engaged in emotional work hide their feelings, which can lead to burnout and turnover.

What’s more, burnout and low employee engagement can negatively impact donor engagement. There’s some truth to happy employees equaling happy customers, or in this case, donors.

Employee Engagement: Understanding the Basics

According to the Gallup organization, work units that score in the top half on employee engagement “nearly doubled their odds of success compared with those in the bottom half.” Organizations in the highest percentile for employee engagement saw a 10% increase in customer (aka donor) satisfaction, as well as 22% greater profitability, and 21% greater productivity. 

And if you think low employee engagement is bad for donor engagement, employee turnover is even worse! With fewer employees to spread around the work, things can easily start to fall through the cracks. 

You may notice that thank you notes and deadlines for appeals start to slip, donor communications become more scattered and infrequent, and other telltale signs that your fundraising programs needs help. After time spent sourcing, recruiting and training a replacement, how much time and attention can you reasonably give to the mission or to donors? 

So what’s an Executive Director to do? Often times, you’re so busy running your organization that you fail to recognize the signs of disengagement and burnout in your employees. Those signs could include:

  • Apathy about tasks or the work
  • A decline in good communication, or an increase in poor communication
  • Lack of participation or no longer providing feedback 
  • Not appearing to be mentally “clear” 
  • Not being as approachable, or more easily upset by small issues or obstacles
  • Being more reserved or quiet
  • Absenteeism or calling out more often
  • Simply getting by doing the bare minimum
  • Displaying more negativity than usual or becoming more cynical

Retain More Employees (and Boost Donor Engagement)

For most nonprofits, the departure of an employee can create quite the headache. Remember the saying, “an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure”? When it comes to employee engagement, a little time and effort can go a long way in preventing employees from leaving for greener pastures. 

Here are a few tips and tricks that you can put into play that will increase employee engagement, and ultimately decrease burnout and turnover:

  • Check in regularly. Regular one-on-one meetings with team members can be invaluable. By checking in frequently (once a week or bi-weekly) it allows you to talk casually and find out what keeps them up at night. By knowing what roadblocks they’re facing, both personally and professionally, you can work together to find solutions that work for everyone.
  • Encourage your employees to provide feedback openly, and actually value their opinion. It’s important to create an environment where employees feel they can express themselves and share creative ideas. Be sure to listen without being critical or shooting down suggestions. By making them part of the solution, employees become more engaged in the mission.
  • Make sure employees have a chance to recharge. This can mean ensuring they take time off and vacations throughout the year or giving season, or allowing them a few mental health days, no questions asked. Equally as important, make sure your employees know their work will be taken care of while they’re out. Nothing kills a vacation more than knowing you’re coming back to a full inbox and a too long to-do list. 
  • Provide mentorship and coaching for professional growth. Employees want to know that they can grow within your organization. By providing training, coaching, or allowing them to take on additional responsibilities within the organization, it provides an opportunity for professional growth. Stagnation can be a morale killer, but having a path forward can lead to greater engagement. 
  • Give praise for a job well done. Kudos doesn’t have to come in the form of bonuses or gift cards. Simply saying “thank you” and “great job” goes a long way in letting your employees know that their work matters. We often spend time focused on goals and deadlines that we fail to give recognition when major milestones, goals or deadlines are achieved. Make recognition an organization-wide priority - it doesn’t just need to come from managers.
Topics: Marketing

Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) | Ultimate Guide

Salesforce is a powerful constituent relationship management (CRM) solution. There’s a reason it’s one of the most commonly used for organizations of all types: it’s completely customizable.

Topics: Donor Management

Salesforce for Nonprofits: Understanding the Essentials

If you've been researching CRM software for your nonprofit, or even if you haven't, you've likely heard of Salesforce. It's the world's leading CRM solution for businesses, nonprofits, consultants, and other organizations.

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Nonprofit Advocacy Examples: 5 Successful Strategies

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Many nonprofit organizations use advocacy campaigns to effectively draw attention to their mission and cause real change.  Whether you are targeting legislators at any level of government, or CEOs and other decision-makers, advocacy campaigns can be an effective engagement activity that helps get your supporters more involved with your cause.

Topics: Advocacy

Selecting the Right Software Solution for Your Nonprofit

Managing a software selection project

Whether your nonprofit is looking for a new CRM system, an event tool, or a complete digital marketing and donor management platform - an organized software selection project will ensure that you find the right solution for your organization.

A good selection project consists of the following:

1. Project team and executive sponsor

Selecting a new software system can be a huge decision. Take the time to consider what and who will be impacted by the change, and then put together a team that has the time and knowledge to assist with the selection process. Depending on the size of the project and the size of your organization, a project team may range anywhere from 2 members to 10.

When putting your project team together, consider the following:

  • Who will be directly affected by the new system?
  • Who will have the most valuable input? Don’t overlook lower-level employees who have been with the organization for a long time and may have a very different perspective from leadership.
  • Who are the biggest users of the current system? Whether software or a manual system is being replaced - you will need to make sure that you aren’t losing needed functionality.
  • Who will be the biggest consumers of information coming out of this system? Your ED will need operational reports, the board will want high-level intelligence, and others will need specific information to do their jobs effectively.
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6 Ways to Keep Your Donor Data in Top Shape

When you think about it, your donor data might just be your most valuable asset. It drives your donor communications, powers your fundraising efforts, and feeds your reports. Shouldn’t it be complete, accurate, and in tip-top shape?

Topics: Donor Management

6 Online Fundraising Platforms: Get to Know These Tools

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Nonprofit Software: 8 Platforms to Power Your Cause

Managing a nonprofit takes lots of time and patience. From juggling donors to managing money to planning events, your to-do list never seems to end. Don't get too discouraged! Whatever you may encounter, there is a solution out there in the world of fundraising software.

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Perfect Your Nonprofit Marketing Plan: 11 Steps to Success

Every nonprofit needs a marketing plan. It's never been an optional strategy. No matter how consistent the need for a nonprofit marketing plan, the methods of implementing successful plans have changed dramatically over the years.

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Grassroots Nonprofit Marketing Campaigns: 4 Stellar Examples

Grassroots nonprofit marketing campaigns are a valuable opportunity for nonprofits to raise awareness of the mission that sparked the commencement of the organization itself. These campaigns provide an opportunity to share your passion!

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Donor Software: 6 Essential Tools to Drive Your Mission

When it comes to donor software, your nonprofit should take advantage of the right tools and resources to most effectively track your relationships with your supporters. After all, if you want to obtain new donors and retain the ones you have, the right software will help you manage all aspects of your interactions with them.

Topics: Donor Management