How to Retain Quality Fundraisers and Development Staff


Leading With Fresh Eyes

Whether your organization’s development office is a one-man show, mid-sized, or a mega shop one thing is for certain: leadership is everything!  As you look at your 2023 goals, evaluate the way you’ve been leading with fresh eyes to assess where you might need to strengthen or encourage your team.

A big challenge we are seeing in the nonprofit sector is attracting and retaining good development staff. Many are fleeing nonprofits for higher pay, more flexibility, and attractive benefits at for-profits. Bottom line: when fundraisers and/or support staff leave, the departure puts donor relationships in jeopardy.

Now is a great time to look at your own team with a fresh set of eyes. Ask yourself:

  • Do you provide opportunities for advancement? If so, what is the path for advancement and are specific steps/metrics put in place to measure each employee’s career path of choice? Too many development positions offer no opportunity for growth or advancement. Might you offer staff continuing education and the chance to head up special projects that further your organization in meaningful ways? Putting development staff in decision-making roles leads to higher job satisfaction.
  • Does your organization offer competitive pay when compared to other nonprofits? If not, what are some steps you can take to remedy the imbalance? If your organization operates on limited funds, offering other benefits can go a long way toward attracting and retaining staff. According to a recent study conducted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the top desired benefits included: paid time off (76%), medical/dental insurance (68%), remote work (66%), flexible hours (63%), and retirement fund (61%).
  • Are you letting staff know that they make a difference? That same study conducted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy as well as a second study completed by a private organization in partnership with the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy, both revealed that “feeling that what they did mattered and made a difference” is what fundraising professionals want most. Nonprofits are mission-driven, which is probably one of the main reasons why people choose to work with you. Make sure your team knows how important their role is in furthering the mission. Take the time to point out and recognize the individual achievements and contributions of each staff member throughout the year, as well as the impact it had on the people or causes you serve. 

Bottom line . . . get to know your staff and what’s important to them. People will walk through brick walls for you and your organization if they feel integral to the success of your mission and duly appreciated. 

Desperately Seeking Fundraisers by Emily Haynes and Rasheeda Childress
The Great Fundraising Research

10This Month's Focus

Plans are important, but it's the action that makes the plan a reality. This month, the DBD team will be sharing ways for you to jump-start your work in 2023.



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Posted by Mary Ramirez
Mary Ramirez

Written by Mary Ramirez

As a seasoned fundraising professional, Mary Ramirez has a deep understanding of the qualities and characteristics of effective non-profits. She excels at helping clients design solutions that address challenges and capitalize on opportunities for long-term success. Mary balances strategic thinking with attention to detail.

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