Say Thanks or Say Goodbye

Celebrating Nominees at the 2015 Be the Difference Awards

Celebrating Nominees at the 2015 Be the Difference Awards

Many nonprofit leaders feel overwhelmed by the constant churn in our field.

The average numbers are daunting:

  • Annual staff turnover for nonprofits in our county is 25%.
  • 70% of the donors we work so hard to reach will not make a second gift.
  • 60% of new volunteers leave after a year.

The drive for more resources for outreach, recruitment, onboarding, and training in an increasingly competitive environment hits all nonprofits hard and is a crushing burden to small nonprofits. The most frequent request we get from our agency partners is help with recruitment – both for volunteers and donors – and we have invested in excellent tools to help with both.

This is a good news/bad news situation.

The bad news is: Recruitment alone is not going to fix these problems unless we can reduce the number of folks walking out the door!

The good news: There is a simple, powerful way to change your agency culture that is proven to boost retention, productivity, and engagement for all three groups of people you need – staff, volunteers and donors. It costs almost nothing and you already know how to do it. – Practice Gratitude.

Practicing gratitude is not a nonprofit kumbaya.  Well documented hard science supports the value of gratitude.

  • The Harvard Business Review recently featured research demonstrating that the single highest driver for engaged employees is knowing their work is appreciated.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported a series of studies that found that, despite the overwhelming link between thanking people and worker productivity, health and retention, our workplaces ranked dead last on the list of where people thank others.
  • Thanking donors quickly and more than once doubles their retention rate.
  • Recognizing both the personal efforts of volunteers and their contribution to impact increases retention rates and amount of time given by volunteers.

Here are some simple tips to help you create a culture of thanks:

Leadership sets the tone. Start expressing thanks daily.

Don’t wait, the closer to a donation, completion of a project or milestone the better.

Be personal. Handwritten notes and quick phone calls do wonders.

Not once only. The once a year party or generic letter alone doesn’t help.

Not only one way. Some people love public recognition, some like a quiet note.

On Monday August 15th,  we open nominations for our 10th Annual Be the Difference Awards  to thank people, businesses and groups who make our community great by volunteering. Start the gratitude practice by nominating someone today! Then keep it up.

Learn More about the Be the Difference Awards

Download a Nomination Form


karen-delaneyBlog Post Written by Volunteer Center Executive Director Karen Delaney.  Karen has led the Volunteer Center for more than 30 years and is an internationally recognized leader, trainer and speaker in the field of volunteerism, community building and nonprofit management. Karen’s formula for success is “hope, fun, curiosity, gratitude, belief in people and good data.”

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