Upon learning about my new book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits, my friend was puzzled. “I don’t get it,” he said, “especially when nonprofits are so mission-driven. Aren’t the people who work there more engaged than those who work in the for-profit sector?”
My friend’s presumption about nonprofit engagement is a common one. Regardless of whether an organization is profit-driven or mission-driven, the quality of workplace engagement depends on the organizational culture and how its people are treated. Nonprofits can’t claim any advantage based on employees’ and volunteers’ passion for the mission.
As nonprofit employee and consultant Jinna Halperin wrote in Voices from the Field: Nonprofit Workplace Culture – Why it Matters so Much to Us:
“All nonprofits are dysfunctional in some way or another and figuring out where to hang your hat requires one to assess whether the level and type of dysfunction is personally tolerable …
“I am no longer driven only by the mission of the organization. Having so many issues about which I feel passionate and on which I have worked, I have come to believe that employment happiness at nonprofits is more about how one is treated and whether one’s contribution is respected …”
An inspiring mission may attract talent employees and volunteers to an organization, but it takes much more to get them to stay. People need to feel they matter as much as their work.
Note: To get a look inside my new book on nonprofit engagement, stay tuned for next week’s post.