Staff turnover is a fact of life for any nonprofit manager. A very costly fact of life. This is even more of an issue when it comes to fundraising staff. Not only is the work they do very valuable, but finding a replacement can be very difficult and expensive. And to add insult to injury, the time spent finding a replacement can be a prime period for fundraising opportunities. That's why it's so important to improve the retention of your fundraisers.
The NonProfit Times attended this year's Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International Conference on Fundraising where Penelope Burk, president of Cygnus Applied Research, Inc., spoke on the topic of staff turnover. She said the key to retaining great fundraisers lies in knowing more about them. She shared some facts gathered through a survey of fundraising employees of nonprofits:
- Why they chose a fundraising career. Most fundraisers entered the profession “accidentally” (i.e., through other work they were hired to do), rather than intentionally. Some take an opportunistic view, coming into the field as leverage to other jobs in the sector.
- The profile of a loyal fundraiser (one who intends to stay). Key characteristics include a belief in the mission, having personal/family needs accommodated, being included/respected as an active participant in planning, creative discussion, working with a team.
- Why fundraisers left their last position. Salary or increase in salary is always the primary reason why fundraisers left their last jobs or intend to leave the current one. Flexibility on salary plus offering benefits that fit the times is a first practical step to lengthening their tenure.