February Is For Thanking Staff

Photo by calebdzahnd

Non-profits, by virtue of what they do, are a world of people who value mission over money. Every industry has employees who work their tails off. But non-profits are founded, managed, and staffed by people who go into their jobs knowing, and largely are at peace with the fact that they may make the world a better place, but will not be rich.

And if you are a non-profit manager, even as you read this, your staff is probably in need of a major “pause” because they are quite likely fried.

Which follows, because:

  1. October and November were about the big fundraising push.
  2. December was nothing short of crazytown (between the calendar year’s final push for fundraising, that tryptophan-induced mental fog you fight against all month after Thanksgiving, the crush to get everything done in a short work month, and oh yes, the desire to actually have a holiday in your own life. Holiday shopping, anyone?)
  3. And then comes January, which is back to non-holiday normal for most industries, but the month of taking stock for non-profits. Fundraising goals, what went right, what was a bust, how much came in, who gave, who didn’t, why didn’t they, have those who gave been thanked? Because they better get those thank-yous before the W-4s arrive.

Lots of people work over the holidays. But there is a unique kind of stress that accompanies the non-profit world over that period of time the rest of us associate with gifts, turkey, trimmings, and after-Christmas sales. Come February, non-profiteers across the board are exhausted.

So if you are a founder, boss, or manager in the non-profit world, February should be about taking care of your staff, acknowledging their work, and appreciating them with the same authenticity and thanks you show your all-important donors.

Few things beat a raise, but there are lots of other ways to thank your staff–flex-time, more authority, no-strings-attached training, support staff (failing which, a staunch pool of interns and committed, capable volunteers), and don’t underestimate the value of a title bump.

Whatever you do, don’t expect to go from the pressure of the fall to spring (and in DC, gala season) without some “pause” or acknowledgment of your staff.

Think about it: without them, you have no organization.