Tag Archives: Employee Retention

Is Executive Coaching A Good Investment?

Fundraisers talk a lot about donor retention. But, what about employee retention and how it impacts donors? Many nonprofits have a revolving door of development professionals. The average tenure of a fundraiser is less than 2 years. And the donor pays the price.

Consider a new development professional who starts a new job. Immediately, she wants to build relationships with major donors! But the donors have seen this cycle too often. They don’t want to spend the time gearing up to befriend another new development person. It shifts the work to the donor who has to meet more often so the development person feels comfortable. Which, let’s face it, is not why donors give to your nonprofit.

The new development person is set up for failure. Making it more likely they will leave sooner. Keeping the revolving door moving.

Then the question is, how do you get an employee to stay? One way is by helping them grow and feel successful with Executive Coaching.

Investing in your staff will help employee retention, which will help donor retention, which will help your bottom line.

Is Executive Coaching A Good Investment?

Executive coaching means different things to different people. 

  • A sounding board to enhance self-assurance
  • Short term strategy partner for new initiatives
  • Developing new skills like
    • Volunteer or board management
    • Governance oversight
    • Annual fund growth
    • Capital campaign planning
    • Prepping for a Strategic Plan
  • Building confidence so they are ready for the next challenge around the corner
  • Learning the skills to move up in the organization

If you, or someone you know is thinking about Executive Coaching and how it could help provide professional and personal development, send me an email. Or sign up for a free consultation on my calendar.

Why is Nonprofit Employee Turnover So High?

PrintDevelopment professionals are known for high turnover rates. Ironic considering the percentage of their job that they spend developing relationships. So what accounts for the constant change? Why is nonprofit employee turnover so high? And, what can you do about it?

Turnover might not be the industry – it might be your nonprofit. Sure, nonprofits have trouble retaining development professionals but that is often because these employees feel unsupported by management, they are seeking a better work/life balance or the nonprofit is short-staffed which leaves them feeling unsuccessful.   And these are all problems that will continue with each new employee unless management and the board take steps to change the situation.

If the problem is that the last person didn’t fit with the organization take a thorough look at your hiring practices. Were you asking the right questions? Were you asking the same questions of all of your prospective employees? Were you selling the organization as much as learning about the candidate? Was your job description accurate? Was your job description achievable or did you list off your dream list assuming the right candidate could get it all done?

Your nonprofit has a small budget so the best bet is to find someone who is either an up and coming star or someone who will grow into the role. The reality is often different – even if you find someone with amazing potential. All too often they don’t stay long enough for your nonprofit to reap the rewards of getting more than you pay for. If they are up and coming – they will leave for a better paid position when they find it. Positions that offer “growth opportunities” often lack the training that would help the employee grow. Is there access to personal development and continuing professional education? Is there time set aside for it?

“Budgets are limited.” “The Development Director can’t make more than the Executive Director.” “The right person will have the passion and will be okay with making a little less for a good cause.” In theory, these statements are all true. In reality, you are not going to find someone for half the price to do all the work for twice as long as your last employee. Good causes still have to pay employees. And often, you have to raise the pay of the executive director to pay for a strong development professional.

If you find yourself in the same position again and again consider calling Mersky, Jaffe & Associates. We can help examine your hiring practices or conduct your next search. We may not always give you the answers you want, but we will give you the answers that help you reduce high turnover and secure donor relationships. Which will pay dividends.

Learn more about Mersky, Jaffe & Associates Executive Search services by clicking here

Employee Retention

nonprofit staff teamwork imageLong-time readers of Resources, the MJA newsletter, may recall an article about employee turnover in the December 2004 issue.

The article spoke to why turnover is so expensive to your organization – in monetary as well as in less quantitative measurements. Now, it’s time to look at the other side of the coin – how to retain your development team.

This is not just for development personnel – these concepts can apply across the board:

* Involve everyone in high-level discussions. Let’s say you are not raising enough money for your annual operations, what should you as the executive director do?
1. Tell the department what is going to be done and expect them to follow through.

2. Offer opportunities for the staff to find workable solutions. They may not have the answers and/or you may not agree with all of their ideas, but having them involved with the decision will help the staff develop a real sense of ownership in the solutions. You have hired your staff, in part, based on their talents, skills and previous experience in other organizations – utilize these strengths as a resource.

* Establish manageable expectations. Development does not provide overnight solutions to any problems. In fact, it is the long-term focus of the development staff that will ensure the organization’s financial stability and potential growth. It can be frustrating when you know you need money now, but planning for the future with 1-year, 3-year, 5-year and 10-year plans will help you eliminate that pressure for the future and ensure your staff does not feel like unreasonable expectations are preventing success. Mutually agreeable goals are essential. An employee who feels they can be successful will often go the extra mile to ensure they are successful.

* Remember that it is sometimes necessary to step back in order to move forward. Your dreams of raising $2.5 million will be impossible if you do not have systems in place and enough appropriate staffing. Staff that feels they are fighting against insurmountable battles will get easily frustrated. Frustrated employees will gladly leave for the potential of success elsewhere. Offering brainstorming sessions to solve problems, growth opportunities including professional development and plans to alleviate the most stressful aspects of a job will help with retention.

* Provide reviews more than once a year. If your only review of an employee has monetary repercussions, there is no opportunity for one-on-one feedback that will benefit both parties. The looming dollar figure at the end of the conversation will be in the employees’ mind with every piece of constructive criticism. In addition, annual reviews do not provide opportunities for smaller, cumulative improvements in performance. This being said, if you only offer executives bi-annual reviews, you are stating that you are only interested in retaining high-level employees. One look at the back pages of any development-associated publication like The Chronicle of Philanthropy will show you the lists and lists and lists of nonprofits searching for qualified candidates at all levels. It is easier as well as more cost effective to grow from within and, in general, prevent turnover in the first place.

This is not an all-inclusive list, nor is it a cure-all. But it is a step to rethinking your strategy for success. Why don’t you share with us, and our thousands of readers, your best practices in terms of employee retention? We will publish your thought under your by-line in subsequent issues of Resources.