By the DRG Group
Over the past two years, everything has changed—from our work environments, team structures, and schedules to how we gather, engage, and communicate with donors. If you're feeling stressed in the "new normal," you're not alone! Nonprofits everywhere are facing many new challenges—and our team is stepping up to help.
Here are a few of the challenges we're seeing at nonprofits right now:
Resistance to Change
One of our favorite things is to help clients overcome change-resistance at their organizations through implementing innovation or technology. We love taking bold yet calculated risks to shake the snow globe and create better donor and staff experiences—and getting key stakeholder buy-in.
It inspires us when we take a chorus of "no" and "we've always done it that way" and turn them into believers. The more innovative and different, the better! We love the challenge! Sometimes we find processes and policies haven't been looked at in years, or even a decade or more. We love to help people move off of their hamster wheel and onto the fast lane of success and streamlining! If you have a tough innovation to implement and a bunch of doubters—we're the team for you!
Knowing Where to Start
One of our favorite DRG Group services is a full donor relations program assessment because it helps our clients address numerous challenges at once. From revamping team structure to measuring ROI to developing a strategy and gaining leadership buy-in—an assessment provides a 360-degree evaluation that offers actionable insights to help move a program to the next level.
In the bustle of the day-to-day, it can be difficult to ascertain where we should direct limited resources to make the most significant impact on building or growing our donor relations efforts. Our team has been on both sides of the assessment process at different organizations. For example, as a team leader, the results were transformative, allowing us to be laser-focused on the most essential aspects of our work to elevate the overall donor experience.
And in partnering with organizations to assess their programs, some of our favorite conversations happen with the donors themselves. Their feedback tends to be the most valuable to our clients, sometimes providing a previously unseen glimpse into the donor experience. Quite often, these conversations with donors demonstrate that the organization is listening to the feedback they've already received and committed to taking action toward improvement. This is a uniquely useful aspect of the assessment process that has helped our clients strengthen relationships and inspire donors' confidence in the organization they choose to support.
Onboarding and Coaching New Employees
Many of our clients are hiring new talent and—like most of us—have had to be creative and look outside the industry or hire someone with less experience but strong potential. Sometimes the best candidates lack experience in management, donor relations, the nonprofit sector, etc., and need additional training, coaching, and onboarding to be successful in their new role.
In these scenarios, the learning curve is steep, and many organizations don't have enough time to devote to this process—that's where we step into the gap and help new employees. Our team will meet with them weekly to discuss challenges, answer questions, share best practices, review things they are working on, offer advice, help them stay focused, and set achievable goals for this new role. We check in regularly with their boss to see how they are progressing and modify the training if necessary. Each experience is different and based on the needs of that particular employee. The consistency of having someone there for 3-6-9 months helps new employees grow and achieve success more quickly than traditional onboarding.
Restructuring to Maximize Efficiency
We wear many hats in our line of work, with endless requests and demands for our time. We love helping our clients rethink staffing and organizational structure to maximize efficiency and output.
As donor relations professionals, we take things on, say yes, and mission creep our way to bloated portfolios and stressed teams. By clearly defining the role and mission of the team, setting norms and expectations (internally and externally), and aligning positions and portfolios to match those priorities, we can find ways to more strategically move the needle and gently say "no" to those things that do not. Then, add in some key metrics, clear evaluation methods, and 360 management of expectations, and everyone is feeling calmer and moving in the same direction. Easier said than done, we know—but it's critically important to invest time and energy into this effort!
Looking for help in any of these areas or have a unique challenge of your own? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org—we're here to help!
What other challenges are you facing right now? Let your colleagues know they aren't alone by sharing them in the comments!