Your Intention: Team Retention

Leaders are bracing for 2023 to be a tough year in organizations and economies everywhere. Budgets are under review, next year’s goals may be in a state of ongoing change, and the situation may be putting your team on edge. The situation places a premium on clear priorities and confident leadership so you can keep your people focused and your association or society concentrating on what matters.


So, here are a few tips for supervisors getting ready for 2023…

Ask each member of your team these questions. Give them a week to mull them over and email their responses back to you. Then sit down and discuss the results with each individual. You may even consider sharing the aggregated responses at a team meeting or retreat.

“What do you need from me to do your best work?”

It’s essential to devote time to your team. You get busy as a leader. Competing responsibilities pull you in many different directions. You must ensure your team feels like they have the resources they need to do their jobs and that you have their back.

“How would you like to grow within our association?”

Discover where your team members want to grow. Find out what career development they need to seek out and facilitate these opportunities for them.

  • Do they need increased visibility in the organization?
  • Do they need mentoring?
  • Do they need a challenging special project?

“Do you feel like there’s a work-life balance?”

If your team has a work-life balance, they are more likely to be satisfied with their job and to perform well. Help your people prioritize a balance between working hard and playing hard. To help your team reduce their stress levels, prevent burnout, and cultivate a strong culture, you must prioritize a healthy work-life balance

“Do you feel a sense of purpose in your job?”

This question will help you connect their personal values to your association’s values. Find out what’s meaningful to them and connect the dots for how their job impacts the association as a whole. Help them understand that what they do everyday matters.

“Are you able to do your best work every day?”

This question helps you identify their strengths. You must figure out if they are playing to their strengths every day. You could even ask them a follow-up question such as: “What tasks would you eliminate if you could?”

“Are there specific activities we should be doing as a fundraising team?”

This question drives home if they feel like part of the team. Research has shown that employees who have friends at work are more successful in their careers. It’s essential to host events outside of work (you might have to get creative in this era of remote/hybrid offices) to thank your team and show them that you value them.


Powerful leadership will be essential as all organizations continue to transform into a more interconnected and interdependent workplace during whatever the “new normal” of 2023 is. Take the counsel offered in this article to enhance and elevate your leadership and personal brand within your association or society.

Michael J, Bates, MS, CFRE
Principal
Consultants in Association Philanthropy

Do Your Funding Priorities Pass the SNIF Test?

What makes a good funding priority?

It’s a question we hear often from fundraising leaders at associations and professional societies – especially as many of them increasingly look for ways to expand their giving among individual members.

Their need comes as no surprise. The development culture in our sector has evolved along a different path from most nonprofits. For many associations and professional societies, resource development has leaned heavily on sponsorships from industry – grants from corporations looking for exposure and business advantage among the organization’s membership. Today, funding patterns have shifted. Corporate sponsorship was already on the wane before COVID. But as associations canceled or shifted their annual conferences and other opportunities for exposure online, the result was a deep dip in corporate support that persists.

Associations and societies are now playing catch up, hoping to raise more funds from individuals, especially major donors. In this realm they find a different set of interests at play and, consequently, a different kind of funding opportunity is in order.  In this moment, we encourage our clients to ensure their proposed funding priorities pass what we call The SNIF Test.  That is, are they characterized by…

  • S – SOCIETAL BENEFIT.  Like donors to other nonprofits, association members want to do good in the world.  That good might take the form of advancing the profession by funding scholarships, training, etc., but many organizations are attracting increasing funds for more altruistic projects that are mission-aligned but which only indirectly benefit their members, such as public education initiatives, etc. 
  • N – NEED. It’s true that donors don’t give to “needy” organizations.  But it is important for philanthropy to be genuinely pivotal to projects the organization hopes to fund; if those programs can be funded through other means, there’s no urgency for the donor to give. Organizations must demonstrate that their aspirations need contributions to enable, expand and accelerate them.
  • I – INVESTMENT.  Every nonprofit’s goal is to attract major gifts. Whether defined as 5-, 6- or 7-figure gifts, these are contributions that rarely arise from mere duty or in response to an annual appeal. Associations must articulate funding opportunities with enough specificity and focus to both answer the questions and awaken the passions of individuals capable of true philanthropic investments.
  • F – FUTURE.  A good funding opportunity is not about “filling next year’s coffers,” but is rooted in a well-articulated vision. Fundraising priorities should be positioned as essential, enabling elements of the organization’s strategic plan to impact the profession and society.

The SNIF Test provides a practical guide to identifying and selecting funding priorities that donors will find compelling. But that’s just the first step. As the test implies, how you explain the relevance and impact of your funding opportunities has a lot to say about how they will be perceived by your donors. A carefully constructed case for support is vital. Sharpening the case for your organization and its funding priorities is vital to showing donors how they can fulfill both professional and personal aspirations by supporting your organization’s programs.

Describing your funding opportunities through the donor’s lens has never been more vital than it is today. The payoff?  Fundraising results that are nothing to sniff at.