Thursday, August 10, 2017

Building Morale in Times of Change

You've gotten a new leader at your organization, your daily processes have changed, something dynamic happens that changes everything. An employee crucial to your operation is leaving. What do you do? How do you maintain the calm or embrace the change while keeping the team motivated?  It can be a challenge, for some people, change could include a new box of pens or the changing of a desk to get rattled. For others, they can paddle along in the most turbulent waters and seem unphased. 

So when does the backbreaking straw arrive for most people? Morale is an indicator for some and lack of empowerment can be a key symbol for others. What's a leader to do? The first step is clear, open and honest communication. If people know you're talking to them and trust the information you provide, it lessens their fear. The second is to not fall into the low morale trap yourself. Don't be a complainer, be a problem solver. Sometimes you will just have to roll up your sleeves and get dirty and if you do that with a good sense of self awareness you can have other people turn positive in a sometimes challenging situation. Third, have a sense of humor and try to enjoy the ride- the famous quote from Remember the Titans rings true here, "Attitude reflects leadership, Captain". If they see you enjoying yourself and keeping the calm, they will too.

Fourth, celebrate the absurd. When change happens, sometimes it's too unbelievable and becomes what I call a good "bar story". Maybe you can have an inside office joke about the absurdity, make a game or otherwise celebrate that you're on a hamster wheel of change some days. In all reality, change is the only constant. You could also surprise your team with an impromptu hallway bowling session or go outside and scream at the highway session or something wacky and crazy. You could also have your team tell their worst ever office story and have a prize for the winner, it will help them realize how small what's happening to them right now may be. 

Finally, how about a day spent volunteering in your community on a team project. Spending time around those who may have greater problems than your own might put things into perspective for all of you.  

What have you done to help boost morale for your team during turbulent times? What do you think of the suggestions? What helps tip the scale back to positivity for you?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Metrics 101: Where to Start

Thank you to DRG Group member Sarah Sims for this insightful guest post! 
Metrics, metrics, metrics. It’s all we hear about these days in donor relations. And rarely is there consensus, clarity, or tangible case studies that anyone can point to when having the conversation. It’s a tough challenge, but one that is critical to the success of donor relations teams – especially those that are fighting for resources, need a seat at the table, or are trying to shift entire cultures at their organizations. There is no easy answer to this need, but often the mere state of mind needed to develop metrics is a significant roadblock for some of us. Surveys, flow charts, analysis, Gantt charts, dashboards, coding, reporting….we get tired and overwhelmed before we even start! However, it doesn’t have to be that hard. As they say, eat the elephant one bite at a time. 
For example…
1.    Start surveying and gathering statistics on one strong, well-developed initiative already in place – such as annual endowment reports:
·       Survey annually (yes, annually, and give them the ability to complete on-line)
·       Track overall response rate year to year
·       Insert questions that gauge overall satisfaction rate and track year to year
·       Add questions designed to gauge their understanding of the impact their gift is having
·       Track number of individual donor inquiries or follow-ups your team handles
Here's an example from the University of Florida:
2.     Identify one high-profile project your team creates and track follow-up giving rates and year-over-year retention rates. (Yes, this will likely involve IT and sounds a bit soul crushing, but in the end, it will be worth it.) For example, here at the University of Florida, we have developed a successful program called Grateful Gator Day where students come together on campus and write thank you notes to some special donor constituencies. This year we sat with the Data team and brainstormed how we could track 30, 60, and 90-day giving rates from the donors who received a thank you note. There are many nuances to the data we are getting back, but being to say on a high level “we sent 2,000 notes in 2016 and those households gave a total of $500,000 in the 60 days following GGD” goes a long way with leadership and development partners. Can we take credit for that $500,000? Not always, but we can definitively say we had a role in bringing that money in the door.

3.     Ask the right questions BEFORE you do something. I say this until I am blue in the face, but every decision your team tackles should affect one of the following three areas:
·       donor retention rates
·       pledge fulfillment rates
·       donor pipeline management
If your initiative doesn’t affect one of these three key areas, than you should be asking yourself and your team whether you should even be doing it – is worth the time and resources you will expend?

Remember, one bite at a time. It’s not always easy, but always worth it!