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Giving Season 2019: 5 Ways to Boost Employee Retention

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As summer fades into fall and we start donning scarves and warmer jackets, no doubt your staff is abuzz with putting the final touches on fall fundraising events and programs, and preparing for your final end-of-year fundraising push. 

The holiday giving season, which looms right around the corner, translates to later hours in the office and a greater volume of work than normal for team members. You may be focused on hitting your end-of-year targets, but be sure to keep a close eye on employee engagement and satisfaction. 

Why is employee satisfaction and engagement so important? In a study conducted by the Gallup organization, companies with higher levels of employee engagement can experience 22% more profitability and 21% greater productivity than organizations with lower levels of engagement.

That’s the difference between fundraising $1M for the year, versus raking in $1.2M. Those extra dollars can go a long way towards funding your mission and programs. 

On the flip side, low levels of employee engagement can lead to burnout and turnover, which means more time spent sourcing, recruiting and training new hires. 

According to a report by Nonprofit HR, nonprofits struggle most with retaining employees that work in direct services (34%) and fundraising and development (15%), which can greatly affect productivity, fundraising and time spent furthering your cause or mission.

What’s more, 84% of nonprofits don’t have a formal retention strategy in place. By putting a formal strategy in place, organizations could “benefit from decreased turnover and hiring costs, as well as increased employee engagement and job satisfaction,” not to mention greater productivity, higher employee morale and a better workplace culture.

Retain (and Engage) Your Nonprofit’s Employees During Year-End Giving

If you don’t feel like you have the time to spend on employee engagement during the Giving Season, we hear you! And if you’re like most nonprofits, you’re hyper-focused on staying within budget and not spending money on “fluff.” 

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of a few simple, inexpensive ways to cultivate engagement and show your employees that you care this Giving Season: 

  • Make 1x1 check-ins sacred. The information you can glean during a 1x1 meeting with your direct reports can do wonders for organizational communication, but it can also go a long way in letting your employees know that they’re a priority. Set aside a minimum of 30 minutes a week with each direct report, especially during your busiest season. Focus on professional development, as well as what’s keeping them up at night. 
  • Get to know one another. Ordering lunch in, or organizing a potluck or happy hour can encourage employees to mingle, talk about their personal lives or their work projects. When your employees get to know one another, they communicate and collaborate better, and employees who develop friends at the office are twice as likely to be engaged.  
  • Allow greater work from home flexibility, or schedule flexibility. There’s been a big rise in telework in the last several years, and with everyone constantly plugged in and online, there’s no reason why your staff can’t work from anywhere. During the holidays, your employees are focused on the mission and fundraising, but they’re also stressed about how they’re going to squeeze in all the shopping, gift wrapping, holiday cooking, etc. Cut them a break and give them some flexibility.
  • Ask for employee feedback and then follow through. No one knows better than your employees what would make their workplace more enjoyable, or make them want to put in extra time. Poll your employees to come up with some suggestions and try to incorporate a few. 
  • And lastly, give recognition and kudos regularly. You may be busy sending out thank you’s to donors, but don’t neglect saying “thanks!” to your employees! Showing some genuine gratitude and appreciation increases job satisfaction, encourages generosity and improves overall well-being. Be sure to give thanks and praise (privately and publicly). And chances are, your gratitude will be infectious, making your employees more likely to encourage and thank one another.

The Giving Season is a stressful time for most nonprofits, and having engaged employees can make all the difference come crunch time. 

By doing a few simple things, and taking the time to engage and listen, you can create better work relationships and further your organization’s cause. 

Be sure to keep employee engagement and workplace culture at the forefront, and be sure to spend time investing in your employees this holiday season. 

First post in series: Employee Engagement: 5 Strategies for Growing Organizations

Second post in series: Drive Donor Engagement by Mastering Employee 1x1s at Your Org



Melissa White has 8+ years of HR experience, with a focus on recruiting and talent acquisition. She has a Masters in Human Resources and her PHR (Professional in Human Resources) certification.

Topics: Marketing