When my children were young, I used to look forward to Monday mornings so I could recover from the weekend. Saturday and Sunday were a whirlwind of shopping, cleaning, cooking, chauffeuring and an impossible to-do list that made the equivalent at work pale by comparison. I bet you’re thinking it wasn’t that bad – fun and relaxation on Saturday night, etc., etc. Are you kidding? That’s when I did the laundry while drafting another grant proposal.
The frantic work/life schedules of professional fundraisers, made even more challenging by the extraordinary amount of overtime they put in, actually mean an opportunity for employers. In one of five research studies with professional fundraisers that supported my latest book, Donor-Centered Leadership, we asked respondents to rate a long list of benefits for their ability to lengthen staff tenure and improve productivity. Four of the top five benefits they chose were connected with time.
Respondents rated these considerations above all else:
- Option to work from home
- Flexible work hours while on the job
- Vacation time in addition to that provided by law or by practice in the not-for-profit
- Cell phone paid for by the employer
- Comp time for overtime worked
Benefits are both a Management and a Hiring Advantage
Fundraising is one of those rare vocations experiencing inverse supply and demand (too few trained, experienced Development professionals for too many available jobs). This situation makes it easy for fundraisers to move from one job to the next. Inverse supply/demand also drives up salaries, effectively preventing worthy not-for-profits who cannot meet wage demands, from assembling the best professional team.
As fundraisers move out of their twenties and into their thirties and forties, however, their priorities change. They start families or, to put it more vividly, they take on a second full-time career. Now time and flexibility are of monumental importance, often surpassing salary. Employers who understand this and offer a modern, flexible work environment, are helping their staff juggle their impossible schedules. But they are achieving so much more than that. When the boss hands over responsibility for managing time to staff, she is saying, “I trust you”. She is also refocusing the Department and her own management time on the thing that actually matters – reaching the goal.
In your next staff meeting, ask this question: What did you do last Saturday? Your fundraisers’ long list of time-consuming tasks is the beginning of a unique benefits program that will make your employees’ life easier and make you “boss of the year”.