“When you burn people out, you push them out. Stars are the first to leave—they have the most opportunities.”      — Adam Grant, Organizational Psychologist at Wharton School of Business

I have a close coach friend whose tagline is ‘making work suck less.’ She gets a lot of business. And while making work as a fundraiser suck less is far from the entirety of what we do, it’s part of it.

I don’t need to enumerate all of the reasons why your fundraising job might suck. But here are a few that come immediately to mind:

  • Ignorant nonprofit Boards who impose wildly unrealistic fundraising expectations and then blame the fundraisers when the magical thinking doesn’t pan out.
  • Executive directors and other C-level folks who think fundraising is ‘a necessary evil.’
  • Organizations that cut the development budget without cutting income projections.
  • All the other ham-handed mismanagement at nonprofits like how ‘back to the office’ is being (mis)handled.

“Stars are the first to leave.”

A recent report in the Chronicle of Philanthropy suggests that it takes 4 to 7 years for a fundraiser to fully realize their potential. Yet, the average tenure of a senior fundraiser right now is 18 months. That’s the very definition of a downward spiral.

Last Fall the Chronicle commissioned a national study of fundraiser job satisfaction. The results were dismal. One respondent’s comment summed it up:

“Every fundraiser I know is stressed, understaffed, and cannot fill open positions, and struggling with unrealistic fundraising goals. It is unfortunate because many great fundraisers I know are leaving the profession.”

The bigger picture is this: in the workplace, performance is in polarity with resilience. If the sole focus is on performance and productivity, you will drive your best people away and end up frustrated. That’s why the coaching we do focuses both on performance and resilience – we think that both are critical to building the kind of culture of philanthropy that an organization needs to raise the most money by keeping its best people thriving and happy.