Here is a quote that we just got from one of the fundraisers we work with:

“I feel like I finally KNOW most of my caseload. They’re engaging and I’m building relationships. But it took two years, and I know the fundraiser turnover rate is 18 months. I’m so glad I’m still here and I finally get to enjoy the fruits of my labor!”

Now, you may already know that many non-profits struggle to keep their frontline fundraisers around for more than 2 years. This results in two ways you are losing.

1) You lose revenue from donors who are not cultivated and stewarded while you hire someone else to fill their shoes, and 2) you’re spending money to hire and train that replacement.

It’s funny, when Richard and I talk to many non-profit leaders, they have this overall attitude that frontline fundraisers are lazy. They may believe that fundraisers don’t work enough, and they don’t trust that they’re spending time working with donors. And because these leaders don’t work directly with those fundraisers, if they hear one bit of gossip or a story of where a particular fundraiser made a mistake, they keep that story in their heads and discount them.

We’ll see this show up when we start working with a new client. “Oh, you need to watch out for Sam [not his real name]. He’s upset a few of his donors with his style and you’ll probably have to think about getting him replaced.”

So, we start working with Sam and find out that this story the leader told us was an isolated incident. The donor was actually the problem. And when we start helping Sam to create a structure around his portfolio, focus on qualified donors, create goals and plans, and tier his portfolio, he’s amazing!

Now, if we hadn’t worked with Sam and helped him find his way, he probably would have been fired by management after 9 months on the job. Which would have been a disaster because Sam ended up being an incredible MGO who became a superstar at the organization.

But this happens everywhere with non-profits. And it’s a direct result of improper management and expectations from leaders. Non-profit leaders hire frontline fundraisers because they think it will solve their mid-level and major gift problems or lack of revenue.

That’s not it.

You must have the proper environment for them to succeed.

So, back to that quote above from the fundraiser we work with. The reason she’s thriving is because she has that structure.

She’s set up to win. She has one of our Client Experience Leaders meeting with her every week, cheering her on, keeping her accountable, and giving her good strategy. And her leadership has been patient as she builds relationships with her donors. They understand that major gifts is a long game. It’s not something that happens overnight.

So, if you want YOUR fundraisers to stay, provide them with the proper environment for them to succeed. Get involved, and ask how you can support their goals. Don’t allow one story to tarnish your opinions about them. Sit down and review the results. Provide proper management, pay them well, and you’ll see your mid-level and major gift programs take off.