Are you looking forward to valentine’s day? This time of year always makes me think about the love in our sector.
Going out on a limb here. a lot of people are all about donor love. Not me! Nope! I say, “NUTS to donor love, how about staff love? Hmm? How about THAT?”
It’s all about the love for you, the nonprofit worker, the fundraiser, this month!
Why? We need love. We need appreciation. We need respect.
Because sometimes we are not getting the respect, appreciation or protection we need. Some of us work without getting paid overtime. Some of us work without healthcare. Some of us work with at-will work environments, where we can be fired at anytime, for no reason. Some of us work in oppressive environments, without ways out. Some of us work without enough pay (ok MOST of us). And all for the mission?! Is this really what our missions are about? Us ransoming our futures for the nonprofit to save money?
Why would we ever want to try to be good to our donors without first thinking, “How well are staff getting treated?” I don’t just mean fundraising staff. I’m talking office managers, program staff, cleaning folks, even C-suite staff and managers.
Here’s what ALWAYS gets left out of the #donorlove equation for me. We say, “Call your donor! Give them a little love note! A small present! Reach out to show you care!” and then… we don’t do the same for our staff. We might have a staff appreciation party once a year, while participating in wage theft. We might pay lip service to being “a big nonprofit family” while not looking inside our organizations for the next CEO.
This, for me, is the equivalent of a garbage man going out and making the world smell nicer for everyone then going home and just emptying his trash and rolling around in it.
We don’t need a donor bill of rights. No matter how much they give to us, we need to say, “The most important thing is how we treat staff first. Then we will worry about donors.”
Because if you don’t treat your staff well,
A) Why would they want to stay?
B) Why would they want to treat donors well? and
C) You are being a hypocrite if you say you’re making a better world.
Staff bill of rights? Intentional workplace culture? Call it what you will, but here’s 9 tips for building better nonprofit workplace cultures NOW.
1. Appreciation baked into our week! Each week in the staff meeting, boss and staff appreciate each other, out loud.
2. In that same meeting, we celebrate the small wins of the week. Heck, we can celebrate the small wins of the day at the end of each day if we want to!
3. If you do not have a budget for fundraising, make one. It will include money for a donor database, money to hire part-time data entry staff, money for training the ED in how to manage fundraising in a realistic way and money for the fundraiser to engage in continuing education. (incidentally, this will improve how you treat donors, if you have a better way of tracking them, their interests and values.)
4. Commit to a non-at-will workplace environment. Follow the actual policies and if you have a problem with someone’s work performance, set clear guidelines and give them actual time to improve. Don’t just fire people on a whim. Understand that when you lose one staff member, you lose $55K even if you’re only paying them $50K. And turnover for 3 years running leads to $190K in costs for your org, at minimum. This will help you save money, and use donor money more effectively.
5. Ask to dedicate a staff meeting just to understanding workplace bullying, and interrupting it when you see it, whether it’s snubbing, the seething giant, the gangster, or others. Here’s more on recognizing workplace bullying types. Also, related: 18 ways to demand dignity at work
6. Consider a better vacation, maternity/paternity and family leave policy for people who have responsibilities and people who are childless who still want more time to do things they care about. How about 5 weeks of vacation for everyone, and one 3 day weekend per month? (like they do in Canada)
7. Look at how much it ACTUALLY costs to live in your city. For example, it costs $20/hr to live in Portland Oregon, where I live. Are your wages actually reflecting the cost of living? If not, get them where they need to be, then give cost-of-living wage increases, every year.
8. Actively engage in quarterly conversations and trainings around the colonialist underpinning of our sector. The 3 pillars of white supremacy. The ways capitalism plays out inside our organizations. Correcting and interrupting biases and assumptions. Making space for women and woman-identified POC to share what they need, their ideas and challenges.
9. Absolutely NO mandatory staff giving. You give with your time every day. You do not need to give to the nonprofit as well. For a variety of reasons. Also, this should go without saying, if you are having an event, let staff come and do not make them pay for a ticket. Seriously. It’s THEIR event too. Part of treating your staff well is letting them feel pampered and have perks like a donor. Why would donors be the only ones to get a nice meal, to hear an interesting speaker or hear a good band? Don’t separate staff from the fundraising functions you put on. They can attend and learn something.
After you do all this, THEN you can talk to me about #donorlove. Until then, just say no to #donorlove and say hello to staff love