Apply Fundraising Wisdom
to Motivate Your Staff

If you want to increase your bottom line, you should treat your nonprofit team like donors. Here’s why.

As fundraisers, our primary focus is raising money. We develop intentional plans to properly cultivate and engage prospects; then, we strategically steward them so they will continue their investment and commitment to our organization or our cause.

With ever-shrinking resources, greater than ever expectations, and renewed competition for talent, development offices are constantly struggling with the question, “how do I keep my staff motivated and invested?” Successful development directors and executive directors apply the same doctrines of donor stewardship to their staff.

Expressing appreciation is a key factor, not only with our donors but also with our staff members. Whether you publicly acknowledge an individual’s achievement during a staff meeting or throw a party to celebrate the team’s successful completion of a project, this kind of gratitude bolsters employee confidence and commitment.

In development we say, “people give to people.” I would extend that expression to include “people work for people.” Develop meaningful staff relationships and you will ensure that your staff invests in you as their manager, as well as in their teammates.

As fundraisers, our donors depend on us to help them find the best philanthropic fit within the organization. With our guidance, this philanthropic fit often evolves throughout the lifetime of their engagement. So too must we help our staff evolve. In your role as a professional mentor, get to know your staff and their career aspirations. Through your professional encouragement and support, you will engender loyalty and respect within the organization. Competent, enthusiastic staff with a quest for excellence and knowledge is the ultimate key to success. Nurture them, invest in them, and provide them with the support they need to be part of the team.

If you follow the golden rule and treat your internal staff as you would your external donor prospects, you will have a winning team inside and outside of the development office.

Originally published in November 2013.

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