Invest in Your Fundraisers –
Your Organization Depends on it!

Susan E Mangels Senior Vice President Consulting Services at AC Fitzgerald Author

Susan E. Mangels, Ph.D, Senior Vice President of Consulting Services

Your mission is important. And as a nonprofit, without the fundraising team, the mission doesn’t happen. But fundraising is a tough job, and teams across the nonprofit spectrum are plagued by excessive turnover. This can really hurt an organization!

Did you know that it takes 6 – 18 months for a gift officer build a strong donor pipeline to secure major gifts? Constant fundraising turnover truncates these relationships and cuts future funding potential off at the knees – time, after time, after time…

In such a competitive hiring market as we are in right now, when it’s hard to find quality employees in the first place, we should all be working hard to keep our good people (fundraising or otherwise)! Retaining a committed fundraiser on the team will not only deliver donations, it also creates a stable and attractive work environment for other talent too.

The challenge comes, though, for nonprofits who can’t just offer higher and higher salaries (or who are worried about “Overhead”, but we addressed that head-on in a recent post). But don’t fret – with a little creativity, we can design a work environment that encourages retention, even without excessively high salaries. Here are some tips for just that:

  • Do compensate fundraisers as well as possible. Pay them as well as you possibly can. Your fundraising team is frontline in sharing your group’s valuable mission and impact with investors, don’t skimp on salaries any more than is strictly necessary.
  • Be open. Especially in a post-COVID world, employees are looking for flexibility. Perhaps they can’t work entirely from home, but could a team member work from home two days a week? Could you offer “four tens” – a four-day work week, ten hours each day? There is a lot of creativity that is possible with today’s technology – see how you can incorporate it for your team.
  • Consider other incentives. Salary is not the only form of compensation. Consider competitive paid time off policies, company access to a local gym, transportation subsidies, and encourage life-long learning opportunities.
  • Speaking of learning opportunities… Offer your employees a chance to grow professionally. Though costly, conferences can be valuable and certainly worth your employees’ time, but there are other growth options too! Consider a book club. Or offer time to participate in online classes, or a subscription to something like Skillshare. These can really benefit your organization as well! Define a game-plan and outcomes with your employees to make the most of each experience, both for employees and your group’s network.
  • Strategically use time. Time is a most valuable resource – periodically examine the activities that use it up. Ask – is this the best use of our resources today? For instance, it might cost less in staff time and energy, and produce better ROI, to hire a mail house to do a mailing, if your staff could better use that time in direct donor cultivation. Your study can ensure your team is well-supported, doing what they were hired to do.
  • Equip the team well. Resource your team so they can do their work well. Budget for good computers, proper mailing materials, staff and volunteer training, and in-person donor meetings. Also ensure they have a solid CRM tool that allows them to do their work with excellence. Prudently invest in administrative support to free up team time to do the work they were hired to do. A well-equipped team can be at their best – engaged, focused, and highly impactful.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. It is vital to support your fundraising team and other employees and there are many ways to do this beyond financial compensation. Build an engaging and supportive workplace, then watch your mission thrive!


Susan E. Mangels, Ph.D. serves as Senior Vice President of Consulting Services at AC Fitzgerald. She uses her expertise in fundraising, management, and leadership development to oversee our consulting efforts and deliver exceptional service to clients.

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