We are in the business of serving people if we are in church or nonprofit leadership. Our front-facing staff are crucial to the success of our organization and the rapport we have with donors and the community. In the wake of COVID-19 and a rapidly evolving staffing landscape, there are a few tweaks we can make to keep our mission the main thing.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of what we do, but both you and I know there are some areas that must be managed by someone who has our DNA deep inside them and who has been vetted for skill and character. In a new era of donor support we have to reassess every area of spending and look for creative ways of doing the same thing in a different way.
No one knows what donor-supported nonprofit organizations will look like in six months or in a year, so it’s time to consider new models of staffing and ensuring we are able to continue serving our members and communities. Here are a few ideas for you to think about as you create your new normal.
Volunteers Completing Projects
Think about the super volunteers on the frontline of your ministries - the small group leaders who have discipled and birthed new groups, the Kids’ leaders who know every parent’s name and every child’s middle name, or the weekend producer who always has your countdown on time, down to the second.
None of them get paid to serve, or if they do, it is nominal. These are the leaders who may be able to complete projects or manage someone who does. They may even have another source of income and not require a consistent paycheck. Structuring work into project-based chunks is one way to get the caliber of talent you need without the challenging commitment of a steady paycheck.
Have you heard of the gig economy? It’s not just for Millennials anymore. There are so many people who have a heart for serving faith-based organizations and who have a lot of experience that you might not be able to afford on a full-time basis.
There are many companies who now provide packaged services for graphics, sermons, curriculum and more specifically for churches. Utilize these! But know that if you prefer customization you don’t need to hire someone full-time. Developing a working relationship with an outside contractor can provide the same benefits, but without the relational and political implications if you need to lay them off or if the chemistry isn’t working out.
As much as I hate to say it, I have been part of decisions to keep staff members only because it would cause too much relational damage in the church to let them go. That is a poor reason to continue using donor dollars on unnecessary staffing.
Project-based staffing takes a different kind of management. It requires the manager to be organized, have clear goals and provide thorough follow up and feedback. Actually, that sounds pretty good. It’s the way work should function anyway, but often we have great staff who are good with people, but not so good with productivity.
Nonprofit leaders have a responsibility to steward donations well and project-based work makes sense for many positions. It won’t replace every position in a church, but it might offer more benefits than you realize.
For a free 45-minute evaluation on your staff, culture, and goals let’s chat and see how we can ensure you succeed heading into 2021..