Five Tips for Filling EDO Staffing Gaps

While the advantages of Artificial Intelligence are trendy topics, one consistent truth continues to apply to capital fundraising: relationships matter. And people make all the difference in developing and maintaining long-term, productive relationships. Finding and keeping quality personnel for key positions within an economic development organization (EDO) is as important as ever. 

In the face of increased competition for both talent and potential giving opportunities, EDOs cannot afford inefficient operations. Large efforts heavily dependent on planning, like galas, giveaways and golf tournaments, are risky in terms of guaranteed donor commitment and often dilute an organization’s focus and resources. Instead, efforts that consistently correlate directly between a donor’s contributions and their desired results can optimize results for donors and EDOs alike. That means finding the right people to operate in that environment.

These five tips for filling EDO and nonprofit staffing gaps can help your organization limit liabilities and maximize project potential. 

Know thyself

Before heading down the recruiting path, every organization should be aware of its goals, top priorities, critical projects and organizational strengths and weaknesses. If not already present, this begins with creating a strategic plan, vision and mission. An internal analysis of these descriptors and current staffing will help meet your organization’s goals and will naturally lead to personnel roles to target. 

Don’t limit the talent pool

Qualified, dedicated staff are present in more sources than ever. Seeking new recruitment pathways or historically excluded communities can offer access to a massive talent pool. Understanding new sources may be difficult for an EDO, so contracting with a recruitment agency specializing in for-profit and nonprofit sectors may shorten your learning curve. 

Promoting staff from within your organization can be cost-effective by shortening a startup curve. The additional benefit is building team morale, showing existing employees a path for growth within the organization and promoting retention. 

Two other staffing sources to pay attention to are interns and volunteers. While often viewed as a temporary solution, interns are often candidates for permanent roles at lower risks than unknown individuals. Volunteers are critical to maximizing nonprofit goals. Volunteers are typically interested in making a difference and are often passionate about their cause beyond a typical employee. Their involvement goes well beyond an energetic worker, however. Volunteers usually have a personal network in the nonprofit’s campaign area, offering an instant inroad into potential donors at a fraction of the time typically necessary. Cutting to the bottom line, volunteers provide a resource that most campaigns could not afford. To illustrate that point, volunteers served an estimated 4.1 billion hours with an economic value of $122.9 billion across the country between September 2020 and 2021.

Focus on compensation

A recent study by the National Council of Nonprofits focused on the nonprofit workforce shortage indicated more than half of respondents reported three primary factors affecting recruitment and retention:

Salary competition – 72%

Budget constraints – 66%

Stress – 50%

Salary determination for EDOs is not different from for-profit, but nonprofit budgets are often lower than that in the for-profit sector. If your organization experiences budgetary limitations, focus on the other benefits your roles provide to attract candidates successfully. The ability to work from home may be less enticing than before the COVID-19 pandemic, as many organizations across all sectors have turned to this arrangement. Nonprofits typically still offer more flexible, non-traditional schedules with the work-from-home arrangement.

Continued professional development provided by an organization can serve as an alternate form of compensation as it can save individuals the expense of doing so on their own. Nonprofits have many avenues to facilitate staff training at cost-effective levels. Organizations like the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network or various state associations offer programs in professional development at reasonable or no cost.

Examine AI

Nothing dampens the creative, passionate spirit like mundane tasks. Technology tools based on Artificial Intelligence present an opportunity to move many of these requirements off your current staff’s plates to free them up for personal contact with prospective investors.  

Some AI tools are excellent fits for specific capital campaign consulting services tasks, providing critical insights through data research not possible by human intelligence. Current AI advancements can deliver information quickly to aid decision-making, allowing organizations to dedicate more time to interact with prospects. They can be force multipliers, allowing organizations to reconsider required headcount and shift existing personnel into currently vacant roles addressing identified needs.

Consider outsourcing

Procuring, managing and developing a complete and effective staff to accurately perform the tasks necessary for an organization’s capital campaigns may prove challenging. Fortunately, outside help can often perform those operations much more efficiently and cost-effectively than trying to do so in-house. Consultants at Convergent can provide support services like initial feasibility studies or full campaign planning, management and execution. Utilizing Convergent’s experts can allow your organization to focus on the expertise that matches current staffing. 

Convergent’s Resource Development Services Can Help Fill Those Gaps

Potential donors need to know their investments will be allocated wisely by an EDO with the capacity and expertise to do so. Those struggling to fill crucial staffing gaps can rely on the fact each nonprofit expert at Convergent will communicate your organization’s value proposition correctly. Internal staff can then focus on the expertise they possess. Combining Convergent’s Fundraising Services with your organization’s knowledge of a target community can optimize your ultimate success.

Contact Convergent to learn how we can help turn that staffing crisis into a plausible advantage and get your organization on track to meeting those goals to

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