8 Strategies To Decrease Fundraising Staff Turnover

High fundraiser turnover has huge costs for nonprofits. Understanding the causes means you can take steps to mitigate turnover in your organization.

Effective fundraising relies on building and maintaining positive donor relationships. If the people who make up your development team are constantly changing, it can be hard to maintain these critical connections. Yet, fundraiser turnover is pervasive within the nonprofit world. One study found that the average job length for a fundraiser is just 16 months. When members of your fundraising team leave, the direct and indirect costs of replacing them averages around $127,650. 

On top of the financial cost of fundraiser turnover, you risk diminishing gains you’ve made in relationship-building with donors if they’re not properly stewarded through the transition. It’s important to understand the causes of high fundraiser turnover so you can employ strategies to mitigate it. Below, we’ll explore these challenges through eight solutions for decreasing fundraising staff turnover.

1. Make Hires Based on Investment in Your Cause

The best fundraisers are driven by your mission. One survey found that 93 percent of fundraiser respondents said they couldn’t fill a fundraising role for a nonprofit if they didn’t feel strongly connected to its cause. You can potentially increase a fundraiser’s tenure with your organization by ensuring they care about your work. 

In addition to being an excellent fundraiser, your Development team members should feel a personal connection to your field. During the interview process, set aside time to ask questions about why your candidates are interested in your nonprofit specifically. Learn more about how they’ll leverage their passion for your cause to strengthen donor relationships.

2. Integrate Your Development Team Into Your Operations

Your fundraising team shouldn’t operate in a silo. When fundraisers work separately from the rest of your operations, they may feel a lower sense of camaraderie with your team and ultimately less appreciated. Additionally, if your fundraisers don’t know the latest changes in your work or what your programming goals are for the quarter, they won’t be able to talk effectively about your nonprofit to prospective donors.

Invite fundraisers to your all-staff meetings so they can share their latest development updates with everyone while also hearing about on-the-ground perspectives and operational changes that may impact your donor community. This mutual sharing helps all staff members learn how they can best support one another’s efforts.

You may also want to give your development team a say in your strategic planning process and other visions for your nonprofit’s work. They can bring forward a valuable donor perspective. This also keeps them connected to your cause and proud of the work they’re doing.

3. Provide Effective Tools and Support

Great fundraisers love interacting with supporters. In fact, one survey found that 78 percent said they wanted more time to meet with donors. You can support fundraisers in this need by providing tools and support that save them time and offer learning opportunities to improve their donor connections.

Hire administrative staff to help your fundraisers with office tasks that can free up space in their days to connect directly with donors. With this time savings, you can also incorporate training opportunities that keep fundraisers challenged and motivated.

Additionally, disorganized or incomplete data can be a frustrating experience for a development director. Don’t hire one expecting them to play clean-up. Instead, purchase user-friendly, mobile-ready software like Instil to support your fundraising staff’s data collection, note taking, and other needs when meeting with donors. 

4. Engage Your Nonprofit Board and Executive Director

Development directors build and manage donor relationships. However, hiring one doesn’t mean the rest of your staff is off the hook for fundraising responsibilities. Your fundraising team will need support from your full organization to deliver your message effectively to donors and leverage existing relationships to strengthen donor connections.

Set clear expectations for the ways your board members and nonprofit leadership team will support your development team. Detail what tasks they’ll complete for fundraising. For example, board members might be in charge of researching and investing in the right nonprofit technology to support your development efforts. Other board members might be able to make warm introductions between your fundraisers and community members interested in your cause.

5. Encourage Fundraising Staff to Take Time Off

Because your fundraisers form close, personal connections with your donors, they may feel like they have to constantly be on call to support those relationships. However, this level of work can quickly lead to burnout. Encourage rest and balance for your fundraising team by cultivating a workplace culture where taking time off is celebrated.

Create procedures that reassure fundraisers that there will be another point of contact for donors while they’re away. This is one place where your board members can play an important role. If board members are already engaged with the fundraising process, they’ll know and be able to connect with donors when your fundraisers are out of office. 

Finally, when fundraisers do take vacation leave, respect that time off by not reaching out with questions or other needs. Having good nonprofit technology supports this by centralizing detailed notes on donors that any team member can access to help with donor stewardship.

6. Pay Competitive Salaries for Fundraisers

Salary is a top driver of being unable to recruit and retain the best fundraisers. One study found that about 58 percent of nonprofit leaders noted low salaries as why they lost their top candidates for fundraising positions. Additionally, only 21 percent said they had the capacity to offer competitive salaries.

Help your board members see why investing in higher salaries for fundraisers is important. You can also look into other ways to increase the overall value of your job offers by considering: 

  • Flexible schedules and work-from-home options
  • Generous vacation time and other paid leave
  • Competitive benefits packages for healthcare, retirement planning, and more
  • Training opportunities to keep fundraisers engaged and growing in their roles
  • Opportunities for promotions and other advancements within your nonprofit

The same study from above found that it can cost just $46,650 to keep a fundraising hire satisfied with their position at your nonprofit through better salaries and benefits.

7. Fund Your Development Department Adequately

When budgeting for your development department, you need to consider costs beyond staff salaries. Funding should support designing and sending materials to donors, hosting events, taking donors to lunch, investing in nonprofit software, and providing training to staff and volunteers.

Each of these line items ultimately support your fundraisers and make their work easier. When staff feel like they have the adequate resources to do their job, they’ll be less likely to experience burnout and look for opportunities with other nonprofits.

8. Be Patient and Show Appreciation

The majority of fundraisers express feeling tremendous pressure in their roles to meet targets, and 55 percent have reported feeling unappreciated for their work. You can help take this strain off of your fundraisers by understanding that building donor relationships takes time. Set goals with your fundraisers, but let them know that you respect their expertise and are willing to shift timelines, when appropriate.

Schedule in both formal and informal ways to thank your fundraisers throughout the year for their work. For example, you can:

  • Host appreciation events for fundraisers
  • Incorporate shoutouts for specific fundraisers during your team meetings
  • Send fundraisers thank-you cards
  • Present fundraisers with awards
  • Offer bonuses to fundraisers for going above and beyond

When fundraisers feel appreciated and supported, they’ll be more likely to remain with your organization long-term.

Prioritize Strong Relationships With Your Fundraising Staff to Ensure Strong Relationships With Your Donors

Your relationships with donors rely on effective development teams. While fundraiser turnover is high in the nonprofit industry, there are steps you can take to retain this critical talent for your organization.

Investing in a user-friendly donor management tool can support development teams and lower burnout rates. Contact the Instil team for questions, demos, or educational materials any time through our website to learn more about how our software can help your team hit targets, stay organized, and retain the best fundraisers.


  • text says "build a foundation you can trust with instil - learn more" next to a laptop and an iPhone, both with Instil's platform open on the screen.


Similar posts