Note: This is a guest post from our thoughtful colleague Joseph Tumolo, CAP®. Joe helps fundraisers, nonprofit leaders, and board members grow their major and planned gift programs. Visit him online at www.joetumolo.com. Thanks, Joe!
Sometimes I hear nonprofit managers wrestling with the questions, “What if we invest in training our people, and they leave? What if we don’t, and they stay?”
In most cases this is a false choice. When you train them, they’re likely to be more productive, more satisfied, and stick around longer.
Don’t assume people have been trained
More times than not, fundraisers and board members have never received formal training about how to approach donors and build relationships.
Most managers are so busy doing their own work that they never make time to train their staff in a thoughtful way.
The result is either mediocre performance or high turnover. How can anyone build relationships with donors when they keep changing jobs?
Real training has structure
Training is an investment of time and resources. Research shows that employees, when properly trained, are more effective and more fulfilled in their work. When done properly, the return on investment is huge.
At it’s simplest, “training” could mean having them spend time with a more seasoned employee, watch a video, or even read a book. These are all great ways to learn.
Nothing, however, takes the place of structured training that’s designed specifically for fundraisers.
Five tips to a better training program
1) First of all, don’t assume your team has been trained properly. Start with the basics.
2) Define clear objectives and learning outcomes, including metrics or benchmarks. Why are we investing in training? What metrics can we use to make sure it’s working?
3) Customize your training to match the style of the person being trained. Everyone learns differently. Some people are more analytical, while others are more intuitive. They process information differently. For training, one size does not fit all.
4) Training should focus on three key areas:
a) Mindset – All the psychological stuff that comes with fundraising. Most people don’t consider how their thinking affects their performance. Being self-aware and continually working on a positive mindset makes the work so much easier and more enjoyable.
b) Behavior – What behavior is required to exceed our goals? How is the behavior tracked? How can non-productive behavior be eliminated?
c) Skillsets – Like a surgeon, an athlete, or a musician, fundraisers must continually hone their communication and interpersonal skills. Refining those skills separates the elite from the rest of the pack.
5) Reinforce what you’re teaching and learning. Training is about developing new habits. The latest research shows that it takes 66 days to develop new habits.
Make sure your program includes continual follow-up and a long range training schedule.
Train better fundraisers – you’ll keep them longer!
Our nonprofit community faces huge challenges with staff retention. The average fundraiser leaves one job for another within 24 months.
You owe it to your team, your donors and most importantly the people you serve to develop the best fundraisers possible. This leads to stronger donor relationship, larger gifts, and happier donors.
Proper training can help make that happen.
If you want to learn more from Joe, here’s a link to a recent webinar about planned giving specifically for board members.