Retaining and Motivating Talented Staff

Posted on 10/01/2017

I'm A Keeper ShirtJonathan Winters once joked, “I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.” Unfortunately, many annual giving professionals aren’t waiting around either. One of the biggest challenges in building strong annual giving teams is staff turnover. Many organizations struggle to retain employees long enough to train them properly, much less to grow them or help them become successful.

One of the most significant factors contributing to turnover has to do with staff expectations for career advancement. According to an AGN survey, the majority of new annual giving professionals expect to be promoted in less than two years. Most organizations are simply not equipped to promote employees this quickly – even those who are performing and producing results at an optimal level.

Expectations for rapid advancement exist amid – and may even contribute to – some level of discontent. In fact, 40 percent of annual giving professionals are not satisfied in their current jobs. 44 percent said they had either searched or interviewed for another job outside of their institution in the past year. 61 percent don’t feel that they’re paid appropriately.

Another factor contributing to the relatively short tenure of annual giving staff may be the number of opportunities available elsewhere. It’s a buyer’s market in many regions, with more job opportunities than there are qualified candidates. It’s hard to convince those who are in the early or middle stages of their careers to turn away from jobs that offer more money and better titles.

An annual giving program is only as good as the people who run it, which is why institutions need to make the retention of (great) staff a high priority. This begins by identifying the most talented employees, listening to their expectations, investing in their development and training, and offering them exciting challenges and opportunities to gain new skills along the way.

There’s a saying in annual giving that your most important donor is your current donor. Well, the same is true when it comes to employees. The most important members of your team are the ones who came into work this morning. Make it a priority to keep them around until tomorrow.

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