Let’s face it: in the world of fundraising, it’s easy to become burned out or disillusioned if things aren’t going right.

In a 2019 survey, 51% of fundraisers said that they were likely to leave their charity role within two years. By now, those people have probably moved on. When pressure is high and the rewards are low, it’s no surprise that so many nonprofits are struggling to keep their talent onboard for the long haul. But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying.

Here are five things you can do to make your charity irresistible to join and impossible to leave.

1. Pay your staff a decent wage

According to the Living Wage Foundation, one in five third sector employees earn less than the real living wage. You can have the best, most motivated fundraisers in the world but if they can barely survive on their income, they’re likely to leave if a better paying job comes along.

If you’re reading this, you clearly don’t want to lose talent. But did you know that, on average, staff turnover costs organisations around £11,000 per person? It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s cheaper to raise wages than to keep recruiting and training new people.

2. Offer development opportunities

No one likes to feel stuck in a rut. And while ‘personal and professional development’ sounds like a buzz-phrase, when it comes down to it, that’s what most people are seeking. We spend a lot of time at work – we want to feel like we’re learning new things, having new experiences and making progress.

If you never promote from within or provide opportunities for people to expand their skills, they’re going to look elsewhere for progression. Your organisation will become a stepping stone rather than somewhere they intend to stay.

3. Be flexible

The demand for flexible work is on the rise, but are employers keeping up? Sure, remote and hybrid work have become more common than they were two years ago, but that’s not the only element of flexible working to consider. The opportunity to job share, or work non-traditional hours can be a popular perk, particularly in a world where we all have so many different demands on our time.

Let’s say you’re a new mum: Being able to fit work around the demands of parenthood is going to make staying in your current role so much more appealing, right? Or maybe you’re a student looking to juggle work and study. Flexible working options will enable you to earn money to pay your fees.

4. Provide mental health support

Raising money for causes you care about can be incredibly rewarding. But it can also be testing. It’s easy to end up feeling like the issue you’re working towards fixing is too big, too upsetting, or too widespread for your work to be meaningful.

It can be disheartening and lead to stress, depression, and anxiety.

This is a very real issue, and it’s a sector-wide problem. 42% of charity workers telling Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, that their job was harming their mental health.

Employers have a ‘duty of care’, which means you must do everything you can to support your employees’ health, safety and mental wellbeing.

Okay, but how can you do this?

  • Treat mental and physical health as equally important
  • Make sure your employees have regular one-to-ones with their managers, to talk about any problems they’re having
  • Encourage positive mental health, for example arrange mental health awareness training, workshops or appoint a mental health ‘champion’ who staff can talk to
  • Provide opportunities for fundraisers to step back and recalibrate for a few minutes, or hours, if they need it. This can prevent them from breaking and quitting when it all becomes too much.

5. Value your talent

We’ve all felt unappreciated or underappreciated at one time or another. And it sucks. Being taken for granted can turn a fun experience into a draining slog quicker than you can say ‘you’re welcome’.

When it comes down to it, all of these strategies focus on this one key point: value. Even if it’s as simple as recognising the time and effort your employees put in with praise and opportunities to celebrate wins as a team, if you make your employees feel valued, they’ll value you.

Considering 55% of fundraisers say they feel unappreciated, according to this survey by CharityChoice, going out of your way to support your staff will put you ahead of all those other organisations. Not only that, but your employees will also do a better job. Research from BetterUp found that when employees feel appreciated, they perform 56% better as well as being 50% less likely to leave. It’s a win-win!

Looking to find and retain fundraising talent? Give us a call on 0203 750 3111.