Optimize Your Nonprofit Fundraising Team with Human Data

At this year’s bbcon, the Blackbaud Institute was thrilled to welcome Tim Kachuriak to give a presentation on what he knows best: how to optimize your team with data. As a member of the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact’s new advisory board and CEO of NextAfter, Kachuriak discussed how using human data can transform the hiring process of your organization and ensure that top candidates are the best fit for the role.

Kachuriak and the NextAfter team conducted a survey among 500 nonprofit executives, consultants, managers, and practitioners. Assessing core traits relating to behavior and motivation, the results reveal three key insights that affect the hiring behavior of nonprofits:

  1. Nonprofits seem to be hiring at random.
    • Survey data revealed that 61% of hiring managers primarily rely on resumes for their hiring decisions. However, 85% of resume items are exaggerated, embellished, or a lie.
    • 92% of job roles are not aligned with behavioral skills, making it more likely that a person’s job is a less-than-ideal match with their personality.
  2. Most nonprofit jobs seem to be a dead end.
    • 54% of all survey respondents said that they have job descriptions so general that they must remain flexible to do whatever is asked of them. In turn, this discouraged staff from developing expertise in their role.
    • Only 8% of nonprofit employees were provided with a full career development plan, demonstrating that most staff lack clear career paths to grow their skills, let alone grow within their organization.
  3. Nonprofits remain concerned about employee retention and fit.
    • 68% of nonprofit employees believe that all or part of the positions in their organization are held by the wrong type of people.
    • At the same time, 40% of all organizations reported problems with retention. Among those employees that had been with an organization for less than five years, the turnover rate was 70%.

Though some of these statistics might seem alarming, organizations need not fear. As Kachuriak mentions, there are a variety of easy, affordable solutions that every team can use to bolster their hiring processes.

Step 1: Reboot how your organization thinks about acquisition

  • Take an inventory of all job descriptions within your organization. Ensure that each description focus on what the role is, as well as what it is not.
  • Emphasize benchmarking within each job description. In doing so, clearly outline the hard and soft skills that will help an employee excel in that position.
  • If you’re able to afford it, consider screening your top candidates with an assessment. Through behavioral and motivational evaluations like the TriMetrix™ report, human data reveals core aspects of personality and behavior that can indicate whether candidates may be a good fit in a specific role or organization.

Step 2: Cultivate your top candidates

  • Take advantage of the onboarding process to lay out the culture of your organization. Be clear about the values, environment, and expectations that each staff member will step into why they join your team.
  • Emphasize personal development for new staff throughout their first 30 days on the job. If your organization conducts behavioral or motivational assessments, encourage team members to look through their own human data so they can better understand their skills, strengths, and even their blind spots.
  • Teach people to get better at their craft. Be generous with opportunities to develop expertise by attending trainings, conferences, or other skills development seminars. Many of these can be found for free, or at a low cost from local nonprofit associations, universities, or foundations.

Step 3: Strategize appropriately for retention

  • Take a more holistic approach to performance reviews. Instead of relying on feedback from supervisors, invite individuals from across your team to offer multiple perspectives on performance.
  • Encourage employees to grow their hard and soft skills. Incorporating exercises that grow emotional intelligence and empathy can strengthen team dynamics, while preparing staff to take on greater leadership responsibilities in their current role and beyond.
  • Not all organizations may be in the position to motivate their staff with raises or promotions, but special opportunities like team lunches or gatherings can incentivize your team toward productivity. After all, the office place is an opportunity to share life, together.

The use of human data is only becoming more vital to the success of organizations. By understanding these trends and incorporating them into your recruitment, hiring, and retention strategies, you’ll provide your team with tailored and sustainable opportunities for engagement.

For even more insights into how human data can optimize your team, check out the full report.