Successful Strategies for Engaging the New Generation of Staff in Our Sector
Richard Burns, president and CEO of the NHP Foundation – a national nonprofit that works in affordable and sustainable housing – is defying the odds in attracting and retaining an engaged millennial workforce. In a new article, Burns says NHP not only achieved nearly 100 percent retention among their next generation leaders, but also helped to grow their love of philanthropy. At the same time, NHP uncovered new ways to support their “seasoned” senior employees.
“First, we took a long, hard look at our organization and developed a blueprint for making our environment amenable to both sets of employees. We worked to create a more inclusive workplace and to encourage cross-generation teams and mentoring,” Burns explains.
Their team then identified seven strategies to guide the Gen Y staffers into a long-term career:
Make your workplace as transparent as possible. “This translates to communicating to young staffers about how our organization works, in terms of: Who are the target donors? How does the organization raise money? and, How is the money spent?, as well as what is expected of them, what salaries look like across the organization and what is an honest appraisal of their promotional opportunities and time tables.”
Provide hands-on opportunities. “It’s satisfying to be part of a successful team effort in your office, but nothing builds camaraderie and loyalty like being part of a project onsite.” Employees at NHP had the opportunity to help install solar panels on an affordable housing property.
Recognize that you can never have too much data. “Millennials love research and stats... It behooves organizations to use their research and analysis to help educate and inspire their young workforce members.”
Give as much personal, individualized attention as possible. “Create more opportunities for company contributions from all levels of the organization.”
Demonstrate tech savviness. “Millennials need to feel they have access to the latest and greatest tech available... It’s also important to encourage positive social media sharing.”
Encourage appreciation of “old-school” tactics. “While your staff is making the most of MailChimp marketing and donor texting options, never let them lose sight of the benefits of a well-handled phone call or a thank you note.”
Get out of your comfort zone.
Burns’ recognition of the need to find new ways to retain young workers is spot on, according to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018 report. In response to a question asking how long they would stay with their current employer before leaving to join a new organization or “do something different,” 43 percent of the 10,000+ millennial respondents say they would leave within two years. Among the 1,800+ respondents from Gen Z, that number climbs to 61 percent.
A piece of promising data for the philanthropic sector from the research findings: "Millennials and Gen Z yearn for leaders whose decisions might benefit the world – and their careers."
So how do we begin to grow an understanding of philanthropy and a commitment to service before the youngest generations become our youngest employees?
“When we give students the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves, they internalize the value and impact of their contributions. In turn, they continue to give and participate on into adulthood.”
That’s the understanding driving the work coming out of Learning to Give (LTG), the Michigan-based nonprofit with international reach that is all about educating, equipping and empowering students to be giving and caring citizens through standards-aligned lessons and activities readily available for free to educators and parents. LTG was founded by CMF in collaboration with government, higher education, corporate and nonprofit leaders in 1977 and today, remains a supporting organization of CMF.
“Philanthropy education and service aligns knowledge and skills with students' innate caring and generosity,” explains Betsy Petersen, director of LTG.
With over 1,700 lessons, activities and resources to help educate youth about philanthropy, civil society and democracy, LTG is well-positioned to help children gain experiences to participate in community and empowers them to take action in support of their passions and values.
LTG’s TeachOne program includes three vibrant turnkey initiatives for 2018-19, each with a lesson plan and project for grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. The initiatives focus on building community through giving while teaching interdisciplinary skills and art.
In a new blog post featured by the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP), a CMF member, Michigan resident and recent high school graduate Fatima Taj reflects on three years as a teen philanthropist and cites community as a critical lesson learned.
“I think I took a lot of things from [CAAP’s Teen Grantmaking Initiative (TGI)], but one of the biggest things is the importance of community. And whether that’s in the group or the community at large, I think it’s really important to work as a team to get things done. Because, even though you may just be one person, you are a part of a bigger whole.”
The Harvard-bound teen says while her future career is undecided, she has deep interest in medical and environmental research that benefits the community.
“I do know that giving back will be a big part of my life in the future. Whether it’s like how we did in TGI or some other way, I definitely do plan on giving back in the future.”
TGI, the only Arab American youth philanthropy program in the country, is part of CMF’s youth philanthropy program.
With communities around the state giving particular focus to education now as students head back to school following the summer break, foundations who partner with education leaders are encouraged to share Learning to Give’s educational resources around building community.
Dive deeper into the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018 report.
Reflecting on the Community Foundation Act, One Year Later
Tomorrow - August 21, 2018 - marks the one-year anniversary of the Michigan Community Foundation Act becoming law.
As CMF reported last spring, the Community Foundation Act:
Allows for the sale of unused assets, such as real estate and closed school buildings, by local government, public schools and public libraries.
Invests the income from such a sale in an endowed fund at a community foundation.
Creates an ongoing source of financial support for the local donating agency through investment proceeds.
Under the Community Foundation Act, participating community foundations must have assets of at least $5 million, existed for at least a decade and meet the criteria for Community Foundation National Standards.
“This legislation couples the best of nonprofits and local units of government working together to take care their communities,” Senator Wayne Schmidt told CMF at the time. “It allows local units of government to take advantage of the expertise a community foundation offers, especially when establishing a fund to promote civic good.”
A House Fiscal Agency Legislative Analysis written in 2017 anticipated the act would “foster positive relationships between local units of government, public libraries, school districts, and community foundations that are all working toward shared goals.”
The Capital Region Community Foundation (CRCF) had testified in support of the bill, calling it a “win-win for communities throughout Michigan.”
CMF asked CRCF president and CEO Dennis W. Fliehman if he would still describe the act as a win-win now, one year after it was made into law. His answer: “Absolutely.”
Under the new legislation, CRCF has already established an endowment fund with the city-owned Board of Water and Light to maintain the city’s “sunken garden” that had to be moved following construction of a new facility.
The fund will be used primarily to pay for contracted services to maintain and improve the garden. The fund can also be used to address service needs at an alternate park and garden identified in the fund agreement, should funding not be needed for the sunken garden.
Fliehman notes that the agreement is for services above and beyond those provided by volunteers.
“They did not want to overstep the volunteers’ labor of love in maintaining the garden. And the goal is to conserve the dollars for improvements like new shrubs or walkways, needs that would be considered more than day-to-day gardening.”
CRCF is also in preliminary discussions with the City of Lansing regarding a fund to hold cemetery memorial funds, and the foundation is awaiting the sale of two abandoned parks that could result in a fund of over $4 million, with sale proceeds supporting parks and recreation activities.
“This act opened up the doors,” Fliehman notes.
When asked what steps he might recommend to foundations interested in supporting a similar partnership in their regions, Fliehman points to the strategy employed by two of his peers.
Mike Goorhouse, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Holland / Zeeland Area, says their foundation contacted local municipality leaders to proactively let them know about the act when it passed, highlighting the difference in investment returns the foundation could earn.
The Community of Foundation of St. Clair County did the same.
“We wanted our local municipalities to know that we could be a resource for them should this opportunity arise,” said Jackie Hanton, vice president, Community Foundation of St. Clair County. “I further reached out to the attorneys that we know work with our local municipalities to share the information.”
Fliehman says educating the attorneys involved in his foundation’s collaborations was critical.
“This is still new for them, so we had to educate the attorneys as they conducted their due diligence.”
Foundations engaging with municipal leaders are encouraged to be aware of the opportunities the Community Foundation Act provides, to help communicate the mutual benefits of this type of collaboration.
Read the Community Foundation Act.
New “Racial Equity in Philanthropy Fund” Releases First Round of Grants
In a recent statement, Minneapolis-based Borealis Philanthropy announced their partnership with the Ford and W.K. Kellogg foundations to launch the Racial Equity in Philanthropy (REP) Fund. The announcement included news that $14 million was released in the first round of grantmaking.
"Philanthropic organizations are recognizing the close connection between changing our sector and the changes we seek in society," said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation. "Achieving these changes requires determination and a long-term commitment to infuse racial equity and inclusion into all of our internal and external policies and practices. Through our collective work, we will stand together to widen the path for equity in communities."
Grantees of the REP Fund convened in Detroit in July to build connections, exchange knowledge and discuss ways they can collaborate on racial equity strategies. During the convening, grantees heard from foundation trustees about how to engage them as champions for racial equity and visited Detroit neighborhoods where community leaders shared learnings about what racial equity means on the ground.
“As a sector focused on improving the world around us, we have an obligation to interrogate how our own practices and institutions may reinforce structural racism and inequality in our society,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “By centering equity and inclusion in all that we do - from grant making and investments to hiring and contracting - we are better able to fulfill our mission and tackle the root causes of injustice.”
Grant dollars will support that work across 19 philanthropy-serving organizations, identified as follows:
ABFE (formerly known as the Association of Black Foundation Executives)
Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy
Equity in the Center
Funders for LGBTQ Issues
Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
Hispanics in Philanthropy
United Philanthropy Forum
Native Americans in Philanthropy
National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity
University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service Center on Community Philanthropy
Borealis Philanthropy explains that the REP Fund’s vision is to promote grantmaking strategies that prioritize structural change and ending racial disparities as the norm in philanthropy.
“We believe that a more nuanced approach to philanthropy that responds to the specific needs of communities will more directly close gaps in opportunity, achievement and resources for people of color and ultimately improve living conditions for all people.”
Read the statement announcing the REP Fund.
Spotlight: Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation
Content adapted and excerpted from a CHMF press release.
The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation (CHMF) and the Jamie Daniels Foundation announced a new partnership that will focus on the opioid crisis.
The Jamie Daniels Foundation was established by Detroit Red Wings television announcer Ken Daniels and his family in honor of his late son, Jamie, who died from an overdose at the age of 23 while receiving treatment for addiction.
According to a release from CHMF, “Despite the support of his family, Jamie’s life was tragically lost due to substandard care and the predatory practices that exist in the billion-dollar addiction-recovery business.”
CHMF will assist with The Jamie Daniels Foundation, which will legally exist under CHMF’s governance and finance structure, with fund development, financial management and generating awareness about the opioid abuse epidemic.
Resources generated through the collaboration will be used to further the Jamie Daniels Foundation’s mission of assisting individuals and families who are struggling with addiction by providing the education, resources, professional guidance and financial support they need to make recovery possible. Mental health is among the Foundation’s primary granting focus areas.
“By working with the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation and with their expertise in fundraising, grantmaking and advocacy, the dream of the Jamie Daniels Foundation is now a reality,” Daniels said. “We will be able to serve children and families when they need it most.”
Matt Friedman, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for CHMF, says the partnership represents a model the Board and foundation strongly supports.
“Together, we will be able to advance more possibilities for young people and their families than those who loved and now miss Jamie Daniels would have been able to on their own.”
Read the CHMF news release.
Learn more about the Jamie Daniels Foundation.