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Fundraising Fundamentals, Section 8.6


Staff Retention

Recruiting and training staff can be time-consuming and costly. Therefore, investment in the retention of skilled fundraisers is an important facet of a successful development office.

There are a number of reasons why you should invest in staff retention:

  • Fundraising is about building long-term relationships with supporters. If staff members regularly move on, the link to supporters weakens.
  • Recruiting new people is difficult, expensive and time-consuming.
  • Higher education institutions are complex organisations that often have long histories and strong communities. It takes individuals a long time to build up the institutional knowledge that enables them to be effective fundraisers.
  • Team work is at the heart of successful fundraising, and high staff turnover has a negative effect on team dynamics.
  • The development sector is still emerging both in the UK and other countries. New, tempting opportunities are constantly arising that might lure your staff away.

Staff retention is largely a matter of best practice management techniques. To retain staff members you need to manage them well and reward them when they achieve their goals. Here are a number of suggestions around how you can retain good staff:

  • When planning your team consider, how its members can achieve career progression. Consider internal promotions before recruiting from outside.
  • Foster job satisfaction by making the parameters of an employee’s role and your expectations as an employer very clear. That way, an employee can measure her success and feel a sense of satisfaction when she achieves or exceeds goals. At the same time, you must recognise when a person has outgrown his role. Increase his responsibilities and remit to keep him challenged and interested.
  • Keep communication channels open. Listen to your staff members, give them feedback and make sure you keep them fully informed of developments that might affect their activities. Involve staff members in strategic planning and goal setting, especially when it may affect their personal workload.
  • Use staff talent where you find it. If someone is a good writer who enjoys writing, make the most of that person’s talent by directing her to projects where she can excel.
  • Similarly, if someone wants to gain new skills or improve an existing skill, support that person in achieving this through training, mentoring and new opportunities.
  • Be fair and equitable in your dealings with staff. Make sure staff members are paid appropriately for their level of work. Where possible, reward exceptional work.
  • Respect the experience and skills that your staff members have developed and give them opportunities to share these with colleagues.
  • Provide the support employees need to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
  • Celebrate team and individual successes and develop the office ‘traditions’ that make working in a team fun and interesting.

Action Items
  • Don’t underestimate the importance (and time) of strong staff management and retention efforts, which greatly outweigh the cost of staff turnover. Build time and specific action items into your regular activities and your formal performance assessments, as well as funds into your budget for training, professional development opportunities, etc.

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Staff performance management


CASE provides a variety of articles on staff retention, morale, training and other areas of human resources.