Written by The DRG Group
Here is our new reality—hiring quality candidates for our donor relations (or any other) positions is difficult. So we need to be resourceful and find new ways to get our work done without burning ourselves out.
One of the emerging trends we've seen is outsourcing. This shortage of quality candidates has forced organizations to get creative and many have started outsourcing tasks, projects, and in some cases, even entire departments.
Some of the many things being outsourced include:
Writing or storytelling - a good writer does not have to work for your institution to tell your stories. A good writer will only need the basics about your organization and clear direction for how you intend to use the story, and then you can turn them loose. Once you find that great writer, hang on to them. The more they know you and your organization, the better they will get at jumping in and taking on more.
Graphic designers - another area we love to outsource! We have an amazing graphic designer, but he is so good that everyone wants a piece of him, and he is often oversubscribed. Because of this, we like to utilize him primarily for large and complex projects and find a local designer who can take on the simpler projects like designing an invitation, a banner, or report.
Videographers - nowadays, we tell more and more stories with video. Some of our organizations are lucky enough to have team members dedicated to video storytelling, and many are fantastic at what they do; however, not all institutions are that lucky, and our appetite for more videos is real. In order to feed that desire, we have found some truly talented video teams to help with projects as needed. Be sure to find and build a relationship with a great videographer so they are available for you when you need them—even at the last minute.
Project management - another great thing to outsource is managing an important or complex project. If you are short-staffed but need to get a project across the finish line, it's wise to hire someone to fill the gap. A great project manager will work with your internal team and vendors to ensure the project is completed on time and on budget.
Reporting - it's a tremendous lift for any donor relations department, but a fairly simple process to outsource. Our DRG team has helped several organizations with their reporting. Imagine all the other projects your team could tackle if reporting was taken off their plate?
Not convinced? You're not alone. There are two big misconceptions to overcome when it comes to the concept of outsourcing. Let's talk about them:
1. "Outsourcing is inefficient"
For years, managers have been taught about the value of employee retention through the lens of the Prospect Theory (which basically states that people are more motivated by the fear of loss than the prospect of acquiring gains). They have learned, "keep your existing employees because it costs more to onboard a new employee."
At the same time, outsourcing usually necessitates an outsider learning your organization and its systems. If you are programmed to think "outsider = productivity loss," you will have a hard time reconciling another truth that outsourcing often = productivity gain.
Let's take the "Yes, and" lesson from our friends in improv comedy.
Yes. It is important to retain your employees. They will be great champions for your org. AND outsourcing can increase your productivity by offloading the tasks that don't have to be done specifically by someone at your institution.
Our team works so closely and frequently with Advancement Services and Info Management teams for database access that it's not a hurdle for us. Plus, we've worked with ALL the platforms, so it's really no biggie.
2. "Outsourcing is a luxury good."
Consider the suggestion: "Let's have chicken for dinner."
In 1900: Walk out to the coop. Find a plump one. Do the thing. Clean it. Cook it. Carve it.
In 1950: Buy a whole chicken from the store. Cook it. Carve it.
In 2000: Go to the grocery store and buy a whole rotisserie chicken.
In 2022: Get out the smartphone. Open the grocery app. Add "2lb fresh chopped rotisserie chicken" to your dart, click order, and have a runner bring it to your door in 30 minutes or less.
Sure, you could do it the old-fashioned way, but what's your time worth? Is saving time a luxury or a necessity?
This is not a sales pitch (though we'd love to work with you). We want to help you solve a problem. If you keep all of your tasks within your organization but walk away realizing that you don't have to do it all yourself, we will count that as a win.
If you're reading this thinking, "YES! I need this," then please reach out to us—we'd love to help!
Are you already outsourcing tasks or projects at your organization? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.