Engage Staff and Raise More Money

Want to raise more money? Then make sure your employees are engaged.tree-70187_640

If employees are engaged in the nonprofit’s mission, they’ll want to help make a difference. And if they believe in the nonprofit’s ability to make a difference, they’ll be enthusiastic and strive to give their best performance.

Staff will project their enthusiasm to donors, and donors will be more likely to become engaged. Engaged donors will give more … which means you’ll raise more and be better able to accomplish the organization’s mission.





a)      Weight passion for the cause high in evaluating suitability. When the going gets tough (as it inevitably does in heart-33735_640nonprofits where budgets and resources are severely limited), passionate employees will be more likely to help find alternatives and solutions. They’ll tough it out.

b)      Recruit for matching organizational values. I love what Rene Lacerte, CEO and Co-founder of Bill.com has to say about this:  Make company values a big deal. Bill.com hires the type of person they strive to be as a company: humble, fun, authentic, passionate, dedicated.

c)       Shortlist only candidates with the right attitude. Make sure their glass is half full, not half empty. They may be extrovert. They may be introvert. But you need people with a collaborative “can do” attitude.



a)      Show interest in the development of each individual, and provide educational opportunities in relevant areas, be it presentations or conferences on fundraising, administration, finance, or service delivery.

b)      Budget to pay professional association membership fees. Pay for employees’ annual dues in professional bodies like AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) and/or AHP (Association for Healthcare Philanthropy)  and/or CAGP (Canadian Association of Gift Planners). These professional bodies provide frequent opportunities for learning.

c)       Budget for your people managers to attend management courses and presentations. Even individuals who have a natural talent for effectively managing people and staff with previous managerial experience need to keep their people management knowledge up to date and polish their skills. Take responsibility for their development.



a)      Provide opportunities for staff to see WHY the mission is important. Don’t isolate fundraising staff from program staff as if fundraising is a necessary evil and program staff should be protected.

b)      Provide opportunities for staff to witness how the work they do makes an impact. Think about the ways you might share outcome information with donors and do something similar for staff. Perhaps a casual forum where program staff can share updates of what they’re seeing  “in the field”. Or have your non-program staff ocasionally accompany program staff in their day to day work.

c)       Consider how each staff person could have both fundraising and program responsibilities. In an earlier blogpost  I wrote about Corporate Accountability International and how their development (fundraising) staff gather campaign (program) input from donors and provide feedback to program staff.



a)    Seek and listen to feedback and input. Staff closest to the day-to-day issues usually know exactly what the problems are. If staff know you will listen, they will probably have suggestions for solutions. Empower them to make changes for the better.

b)   Ensure there is transparency between departments about goals and budgets.

c)    Encourage informal communication and collaboration between all departments. This helps keep people interested in their jobs, helps them see the relevance of what they do in their corner of the office, and generally keeps them better engaged with the cause.


Like Donors, employees are your partners in changing the world. If your staff aren’t engaged, it’s unlikely they’ll be Ambassadors for your cause. And your Donors won’t be either.

How would you rate employee passion, enthusiasm and commitment to your organization’s cause?

According to Inc.com, Gallup’s annual report on employee engagement includes 12 questions to gauge employee engagement. Employees answer 12 statements with “True” or “False”. Perhaps you’ve done something similar in your non-profit – or plan to.

Please submit a comment below and add to the above list, or share your experience on how to engage employees.