Revolving Doors: What’s a Nonprofit To Do About Employee Turnover, Part 1

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Today, some nonprofit employees seem like rolling stones. They come in, work for a few years or less, and leave to other opportunities. Why are employees–particularly fundraisers–“gathering no moss”? Can organizations effectively quell the revolving door trend?

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports in Half of Fundraisers in the Top Job Would Like to Quit, that fifty percent of chief fundraisers plan to leave their jobs within two years. Forty percent are thinking about leaving fundraising entirely.

“Too many organizations lack a culture of philanthropy, which means that development directors don’t have the conditions they need to succeed,” Marla Cornelius says. “It’s a vicious cycle.”

The 2,700 directors were surveyed in “Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising,” about the challenges they face in top fundraising positions. The research revealed about half of the development directors survey expect to leave their positions, one-third of executive directors reported being “satisfied” with their development performance, and the median vacancy of a position was six months.

Laura Montini shared LinkedIn’s study Why Employees Leave Their Jobs. It shared the top three reasons why professionals changed or would change their employer.

Reasons gainfully employed professionals gave for why they would change employers

· Better compensation/benefits,

· Better work/life balance

· Greater opportunities for advancement.

Reasons professionals actually recently changed employers

· Greater opportunities for advancement

· Better leadership from senior management

· Better compensation/benefits.

In the United States, there is a 15% annual average company turnover, 10.3% was voluntary and preventable.

What can organizations do to prevent employees becoming revolving doors?

According to Inc., to build a strong nonprofit, it comes down to selecting the right employees. An organization depends largely on human resource department (if they have one) for qualified candidates.

Tips for combating nonprofit revolving door syndrome include:

·   Provide detailed job descriptions so candidates know exactly what to expect

·   Hire the best qualified candidate- not because of friendship or expediency

·   Advertise to reach a larger pool of qualified candidates

·   Recognize that any candidate (including volunteers) make an impact

·   Determine if the candidates are there for legitimate reasons

·   Determine a certain standard of performance (paid employees and volunteers)

Selecting the right employee is most important when avoiding the revolving door. Some positions are left vacant because of the lack of the right candidate.

In Part 2 of Revolving Doors: What’s a Nonprofit To Do, look for what job searchers can do to spot the red flags of a revolving door organization.

For more information, please visit

Stop the Gen Y Revolving Door

Stopping the Revolving Door

How To Avoid Fundraiser Turnover

About author

James Zackal

James Zackal is a writer, music enthusiast, and Netflix addict. A graduate student at California University of Pennsylvania pursuing a Master of Business Administration, he is a Writer with New Place Collaborations, LLC, in Pittsburgh and Marketing Support with Web Strategies in Winchester.

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