It was indeed a phenomenon. Starting in April of 2021, articles about the Great Resignation were flying around the internet like leaves on a windy day. A record of nearly 4 million workers quit their jobs that month. We were collectively starting to re-evaluate our lives and our work, taking stock of what we really valued and treasured, and deciding to make a change.
My LinkedIn feed started filling up with notifications to congratulate friends and colleagues for starting new roles with new companies. At our first AFP-GPC board meeting of 2022, we kicked off with announcements of new positions within the group. While I had certainly noticed the escalating turnover in 2021, it seemed to overflow as we headed into the New Year. Indeed, I made my own significant decision to accept a position at PBS and relocate from Philadelphia to DC.
It was time to host a CharityChat to discuss the rampage of changes. Who was affected in our group? What were the motivations for these decisions? And what was the impact on our organizations?
One CharityChat attendee shared that her skills were not being utilized to the fullest and she often felt minimized in her work. The promises to create a promotional opportunity for her started to become a distant reality as time passed. She took matters into her own hands and sought an organization that recognized her true value. She skyrocketed from a volunteer manager to an interim COO and was thrilled for this new path of accelerated growth.
Another attendee welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world just as things started to fall apart with the pandemic. She was able to juggle the responsibilities of both a mother and a busy fundraiser working from home, without the stressors of a long commute and daycare. But her job required extensive travel. And as plans were being made to return to work, she could not imagine the intensity of those expectations along with the daily coordination of babysitters. She found another leadership role that allows her to flourish and still take care of her family.
Gaining New Skills
With nonprofits in flux, another attendee was taking the opportunity to volunteer for various organizations to learn new skills and make connections. Through her work, she was able to learn the technical benefits and challenges of a number of fundraising platforms and make expert marketing and fundraising recommendations to the team. In fact, she had just finished a successful board training event and we celebrated her milestone with a round of applause!
For me? Out of the blue, I was recruited for a role with a national organization. It was an opportunity to work more strategically on fundraising efforts and better aligned with my long-term goals.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Of course, change always comes with a level of adjustment and a healthy dose of challenges. While we were collectively thrilled for each of our new adventures (the good), they won’t be easy (the bad). We discussed navigating the waters of new teams and colleagues, adapting our leadership styles, mapping new strategic plans from scratch, and taking the “listening tour” approach when settling into a new organization. We also chatted about the impact of massive turnover on the productivity and success of an organization (the ugly). While new colleagues can bring refreshing insight and an outside perspective that is beneficial, the time needed to learn the culture, get familiar with the practices, and implement new activities can slow down overall progress. Change is not easy.
In the end, we all agreed that self-reflection, honesty, courage, determination, and a strong support network are the keys to success. Those who were geographically close agreed to meet for lunch… in person! Others made plans for future virtual events.
Personally, I was surprised and delighted to learn that one attendee, through her connections made at CharityChats, landed a fantastic development opportunity with a local organization. These are my hopes and dreams for this group and my strong belief in the power of connections. (Chapter 14 of my book, by the way!)
Join the group! I’m posting new events on a regular basis and still scheduling virtual meetups for now, so no matter where you are, you can join in the fun.