How to Appreciate Your Fundraising Team


In the nonprofit sector, it seems many people doing the hard work are not often thanked or appreciated.

The fundraising team lavishes attention on supporters. But who remembers those hardworking staffers themselves?

Many great fundraisers give credit to everyone else (the board chair, the big donor, the VIP’s, etc.).

They stand in the back of the room – after orchestrating the big gift, setting up the event, writing everyone’s speeches in which they give credit to each other – and says to herself “YES! We nailed this one!!”

It’s time to appreciate your fundraising team.

I do know one thing – that an acknowledged staff is a more productive staff.  I know that any workforce, anywhere, works better when people are happy and morale is high.

There’s a lot of discussion right now about tough working conditions in the nonprofit sector: low pay, limited resources, unrealistic expectations, and intense pressure to make goals. All these inevitably result in lower morale.

So why would board members and CEO’s want to appreciate your fundraising team? Well, it’s management 101:

  • A fundraising team that’s appreciated – is a team that feels valued.
  • The staffers feel like their bosses care about them as people – not just robots who get stuff done.
  • When they are acknowledged, they are more satisfied with their jobs and their employers.
  • High morale makes for happy employees – who are more effective and efficient.
  • Organizational drama seems less important.

When I was a fundraising staffer, I was often personally satisfied when I did a great job. But when I got a thank you or note of appreciation from my boss or board – it made my day, my week, my year.

How can you appreciate your fundraising team?

Let’s count the ways:

1. Public acknowledgements.

CEO’s and board members can single out the team for praise and thanks.  At board meetings,  retreats, staff meetings. Anytime, anywhere.

It’s important to recognize the behind-the-scenes staffers as well. Without your administrative staff, gift processing, event planners, digital and social media people, designers and writers, the front line staff would not be successful.

I believe in slathering praise and appreciation to everyone – early and often! We all know that praising good results and behavior brings forward more great work.

2. Private acknowledgements.

You can pull fundraisers – and admin folks – aside and whisper in their ear, “thank you so much for your hard work! I just wanted you to know that we really appreciate you.

There’s nothing like knowing that your boss and/or board members understand your challenges and appreciate that you are able to be successful despite them.

3. How about events?

If you have an all-staff event, it’s an especially great time for acknowledgements. I personally like to call out each individual and say something about their special contribution, talent or skill.

There’s nothing like seeing someone beam with pride because they are appreciated. That good energy you plant in them expands and lives on.

4. Ask staffers what they need.

One way to acknowledge staffers is to literally ask them what they need.

Once, in a large meeting, a board member asked our consultant Kathryn Gamble (who was Director of Advancement at the time) what she needed. Kathryn said she needed a new printer just for their office.

The CEO immediately popped up and said, “that’s not in the budget.”

Well the board member went right out, purchased the printer and brought it back to Kathryn – and everyone was thrilled. (Including the CEO!)

When you ask staffers what they need – and you give it to them, you are saying,

“We trust you and we believe in you. When you ask for things to do a better job, we will give you the resources and back you up.”

Kathryn said she felt great that somebody did something that made her job easier. And she was more successful as a result.

Bottom Line: An Acknowledged Staff is a More Productive Staff

This is how you keep your staff on board.

What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know!