Penelope Burk: Stop Working Your Fundraisers So Hard

Benefits that keep fundraisers: the most valuable one is time. A paid cellphone and laptop are important, so that fundraisers can get work done on public transit. Fundraisers are living farther and farther from their workplaces. Flexible work schedules are highly valued -- job-sharing, atypical schedules.

Working beyond an 8-hour day is actually counterproductive. By the 10th hour, productivity is compromised due to many mistakes. In the first hour of overtime, you get about 1/2 hour of productivity. In the second, it falls to 20 minutes, and keeps going down from there.

Chronic overwork does not actually help your bottom line! It is counter-productive.

The occasional sprint to reach a short-term goal can be a great motivator and binding force, but it needs to be a true sprint, not "this is the way we work".

Penelope also talked about some common time sucks, since time is a big issue for fundraisers. Meetings: "The biggest downside of work productivity there is". In the corporate sector, 37% of the day is spent preparing for or sitting in meetings.

Reporting also takes a lot of time, especially for major gifts officers. Reporting on donor lists and progress can be quite onerous. Rules: never introduce a new reporting activity unless you can get rid of two that exist. Cut down on what information you require from your staff. What is essential information, and what can be skipped?

Fundraising Nerd side note: I am a big fan of ensuring that institutional memory is maintained, while minimizing the amount of data entry required of frontline fundraisers. This can be a tricky balancing act.

New exciting concept: "unlimited time off". Penelope says this has huge beneficial impacts on the bottom line. It's very helpful for nonprofits that can't offer huge salaries. Unlimited time off leaves decisions about when to take sick or vacation leave to the individual employee, with no cap.

Three conditions: you are responsible for your own physical/mental health; you are responsible to your colleagues; you are responsible to your donors.

One of the best things about "unlimited time off" is that it removes the onerous oversight of personal and work calendars from managers. This saves management time and also causes individual employees to become more responsible and considerate when planning leaves.

I love this! (And it's a big part of why I launched Fundraising Nerd.)

Click here to see all posts from Penelope Burk's talk. In addition to talent management, she shared some great donor relations gems.