Challenges with a supervisor is the most common reason for voluntary resignation among charitable fundraising professionals, according to new research released by Tycely Williams, Graduate Student at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business in Washington, D.C.
In October 2012, The Foundation Center in Washington, D.C. partnered with the researcher to learn more about the causes and consequences of voluntary resignation within the fundraising sector.
According to the study’s findings, the causes of resignation can be classified as shortcomings in shared values, style, structure, systems, staffing and strategy. Two prominent consequences emerged. When fundraisers witness resignations loyalty decreases and eventually they resign. Within 76% of the incidents of resignation, fundraisers reported a decrease in loyalty and 29% resigned.
“Fundraisers are critical to the advancement of an organization’s work,” shares the Center’s Director Pat Pasqual, “Often we overlook their needs and pay little attention until they hand in a resignation.”
Fundraisers want organizations with a solid alignment between mission and resources. The researcher has taken three primary findings from the study to construct recommendations for nonprofit leaders on how to create work environments that fulfill the organizational needs of fundraising professionals.
Adopt Shared Values
Ask those you lead what they value. Mission is “what” you do. Vision is “why” you do it. Shared values are “how” you do it. You cannot effectively lead without an understanding of “how”. In well aligned organizations shared values undergird and fuel the execution of purpose and promise. Fundraisers want to feel appreciated. When leaders solicit input from fundraisers it produces a feeling of appreciation. Fundraisers report when organizational leaders listen they feel respected.
Assume a Value-Driven Leadership Style
Seek to influence, not to control. Leaders garner deeper adherence and allegiance with a value-driven leadership style. Fundraisers want to see the manifestation of shared values. Remind all leaders in your organization to pay attention to patterns and behavior. Leaders are signal senders. What message does your leadership style send? Fundraisers value open communication. Do not allow positional power to forge barriers that threaten channels of expression.
Assess & Adjust Organizational Structure
It may be time to evaluate how the organization achieves its mission. Structure is the way in which assignments are divided and people are organized. Fundraisers desire better ways to do their work. Fundraisers frequently conveyed a feeling of departmental detachment. Fundraisers believe leaders can more effectively link the functions of development to the overall functions of the organization. Continue to clearly define operational boundaries while heightening the opportunity for cross-departmental collaboration and communication.
Adopt shared values, assume a value-driven leadership style and adjust your organizational structure to better meet the needs of fundraising professionals. These three small improvements will decrease resignations among fundraisers, increase employee loyalty and sustain the important work of your organization for generations to come.
Tycely Williams, CFRE is President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Washington DC Chapter and Director of Major Gifts for the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. Tycely can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter- @tycely.