Back to blog

The Great Resignation Doesn’t Have to Threaten Your Nonprofit’s Growth

The Great Resignation has left many nonprofits with limited budgets shorthanded. 

Competing for highly skilled specialists or experienced managers has always been difficult for nonprofits with limited budgets, but the Great Resignation has made it even harder for mission-driven organizations to fill open positions.

Despite resignation rates for technical roles increasing by 4.5% — the highest of any industry according to the Harvard Business Review — and plenty of talent in the marketplace, nonprofits are having a hard time filling these positions. This could be due to budget or unrealistic expectations of a single employee. 

To stand out in a tight labor market, nonprofits are expanding their benefits, offering greater flexibility, and highlighting the purpose-driven nature of their work. While opportunities exist to hire folks who recently left soulless for-profit work, many nonprofits can’t afford their high salary expectations. 

According to Ziprecruiter, the average salary for a Director of Marketing in the United States is $111,464, while a Nonprofit Director of Marketing earns an average of $63,756. That’s 42% less base salary, before adding in stock options or bonuses. Reviewing dozens of job postings shows another major difference. In the for-profit sector, a Director of Marketing is supported by a team, while a nonprofit expects their Director of Marketing to take on roles that require the skills of a specialist to be most effective. These include things like paid media management, CRM administration, and digital design. 

Hiring can be just as time consuming as it is expensive. Filling a position takes a minimum of 90 days and puts a strain on existing employees tasked with screening potential new hires.

In addition, nonprofits have to add 20% to a base salary to cover fringe benefits like healthcare, payroll taxes, and retirement. Many employers are offering sign-on bonuses that can add an additional 10% to the cost of hiring. 

Hiring can be just as time consuming as it is expensive. Filling a position takes a minimum of 90 days and puts a strain on existing employees tasked with screening potential new hires. 

More often than not, nonprofits looking to grow revenue and impact online require more than one new hire. This is especially true when a nonprofit wants to leverage technology to scale personalized engagement with their donors and supporters. To effectively acquire, retain, and upgrade donors, nonprofits should build out an integrated marketing team, but many seek a single hire to do the job. This unrealistic expectation paired with low compensation makes it harder for nonprofit leaders to reach their goals. 

An integrated marketing team consists of a strategist, project manager, copywriter, designer, technologist, and paid media specialist. It also requires investments in technology including a nonprofit customer relationship management system (CRM - like Salesforce), email service provider (ESP - like Mailchimp or Hubspot), a fundraising platform (like Funraise or Fundraise Up), a content management system (CMS - like Hubspot or Wordpress), and an advertising budget. 

Despite this, most nonprofits expect a Director of Marketing or Digital Marketing Manager to handle the role of six highly skilled and well paid specialists.


Picture This Scenario

Imagine a $5M-per-year-nonprofit organization skilled in high-touch philanthropy. They have a strong major gifts program where gift officers leverage Blackbaud. They have acquired donors through direct mail, retained them with occasional emails and an annual report, and have upgraded them at their fundraising gala. 

Their Chief Philanthropy Officer believes in a holistic approach to fundraising and recently learned about how other midsize nonprofits are leveraging Salesforce and Hubspot to attract, acquire, and upgrade donors online. She knows social media is important, but the little money her nonprofit has invested in digital marketing has been in a Social Media Coordinator and in recent years, engagement on Facebook has declined rapidly. She’s ready to invest and is going to hire a Nonprofit Digital Marketing Manager. She would like this person to leverage a $60,000 advertising budget to acquire donors, implement a nonprofit CRM to rework their donor journeys, and lastly, lead a website redesign. She’s set aside $65,000, 15% higher than the national average for a Nonprofit Digital Marketing manager’s salary.

“With just one full time employee (myself) and an intern, I could not have imagined securing a 55.9% increase in revenue year-over-year. But that’s what we did with the support of the powerhouse team at CauseMic."

Here’s the problem. This unicorn doesn’t exist. A robust digital marketing program requires a variety of skills that are very hard to find in one hire. The good news is that these skills can often be outsourced to a skilled team, rather than one person, for efficiency and effectiveness. Working with a nonprofit digital marketing agency that specializes in your growth can help deliver a range of cross-functional skills freeing you up to focus on high-touch philanthropy. 

If you’re budgeting for growth next year and struggling to identify the best way to deploy your resources, consider booking a Scale Session with me today. In this complementary strategy call we can review your job posting or talk through alternative approaches to reaching your goal of attracting, retaining, and upgrading donors. 

We believe in Show, Don’t Tell —hear why one of our clients was glad she hired CauseMic instead of a full-time employee.

Learn more about our crew and what you gain when we work together.