Tragedy or Victory: Rewriting the Nonprofit Turnover Tale | npENGAGE

Tragedy or Victory: Rewriting the Nonprofit Turnover Tale

By on Mar 11, 2015


rewriting the nonprofit turnover tale

Turnover is a plot twist no organization can avoid. But for a nonprofit organization—where everyone is trying to do more, help more, raise more, reach more with a lot less to spare—the twist can send things spiraling downhill quickly and tragically. You’ve either heard the story before or experienced it yourself—your go-to software user or report-runner up and leaves. She leaves some notes for her replacement —or if you’re lucky, spends a day training them how to log in and click around—but a lot is lost in transition and translation.

What makes this sequence of events even worse is that the newbie, in the midst of this transition, rarely retains all of the limited info relayed to him. This, coupled with the fact that the majority of “predecessors” never received formal training by software experts, let alone attended more advanced, outcome-driven courses that kept their skills on point and efficiency high, sadly causes the same inconsistency and inefficiency to spread and infect the entire team.

Your organization, your donors and your mission deserve better than a tragedy.

No matter where you are in this never ending saga—currently onboarding new staff, quickly approaching some cast changes, or simply unsatisfied with the efficiency, consistency or accuracy of your current staff—a few simple changes will help you quickly rewrite and realize results:

1. Cast Stars In Your Supporting Roles

When you bring on a new piece of software or a new employee it is important to provide support in the form of proper training from the onset. Setting your team up with an expert trainer ensures that everyone learns to navigate and interact with the software the same way. This not only prevents costly data entry inconsistencies but also ensures that all users—including new ones—are on the same page and nothing is lost on account of turnover. This way, when a new character joins the cast, you’ll have more than one person on hand who can help train them. Or, even better, if you have a subscription in place, you can have your new hire trained by the same expert who trained the rest of the team, allowing for the most seamless transition!

2. Adopt Award Winning Strategies

Who do you want your team modeling themselves after – the A-List or the extras? Keep your team off of the cutting room floor by providing everyone, despite their role or tenure, with regular access to training and resources devoted to nonprofit best practices. From topics like Fundraising Best Practices, Marketing and Communication, Accounting for Fundraisers, Volunteer Management and more—knowledge (and adoption) of award winning strategies can result in an award winning team.

You can’t assume that “nonprofit experience” guarantees a solid foundation—so start now by asking every new hire to complete best practice training on day one. Now, not only will everyone on your team excel at using the software you’ve invested in, but they will also operate off of the same foundation of best practices.

3. Attend Acting Classes Regularly

Software and industry expertise is less like a Vine and more like a ten-season-series. It needs to build upon itself, introduce new characters and settings and adjust with the times. Set every employee up with a professional development plan.  Consistent training (I recommend at least once a month) on more advanced topics, new functionality, or simply refreshers on the basics will help your team be successful no matter what the plot line has in store. Like our first point, this will also allow for a number of people to be able to train new hires—not only on the basics but on every aspect of the technology, since they will have been trained on every change or enhancement along the way. Investing in employee development also shows newbies that you truly care about the success of your employees and your mission.

Don’t lose donors, dollars or your sanity when one of your stars walks out.

Bring in product experts to support your entire staff with technology training, model yourself and your team after industry A-listers and work regular classes into everyone’s role. Apply these three simple changes to your onboarding and professional development process to quickly and easily rewrite your turnover tragedy into an award winning newbie victory.

Read one nonprofit’s new hire success story here: “New Hires? No Worries!” and download a new hire checklist!


Emily Popson is a Demand Generation Marketing Manager at Blackbaud. Emily’s mission is to help nonprofits use technology as effectively and efficiently as possible to achieve their goals. When Emily isn’t getting the word out about awesome educational resources available to nonprofits, she can be found hanging out in crow pose on the beaches of Charleston, SC or scouring local farmers markets for the perfect organic peach.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *