growing your team

Your nonprofit’s communications and marketing workload requires more staff members than you have now. So how do you make the case for growth?

Here are five approaches to consider.

Plan for Growth Now, Even Without an Agreement to Hire

Nonprofits often need to plan for hiring new staff over a couple of years, as they work the new position into the budget. But we are also seeing many instances where nonprofits are growing rapidly in response to a variety of external factors, including the pandemic and a renewed emphasis on social justice. With that rapid growth often comes additional investment in communications teams.

When you get word that growing your team is possible, BE PREPARED! We strongly recommend that you create a plan now for what another person (or two) would do. Project what kind of work products your organization can expect from that growth. Be ready with at least a basic job description for those new positions so you are prepared to jump quickly on any opportunities that come up.

If you wait until you are absolutely sure there is funding to begin your planning work, don’t be surprised when someone else in your organization swoops in and snags that funding for another purpose.

Emphasize the Return on Investment and What Becomes Possible with a Larger Team

What can your organization expect to happen if you expand your team? It’s usually some combination of

  • creating more content (perhaps around new programming),
  • increasing your communications frequency,
  • adding new communications channels or more intensive strategies with existing ones,
  • or reaching out to new audiences.

For more specifics about how these changes often roll out as teams grow, see Growing Your Communications Team: How Much More Work Can You Do?

In that post, I share how we see the workload and team expertise change with each additional full-time hire.

Emphasize Workplace Wellness, Employee Satisfaction, and Preventing Burnout

If your nonprofit’s leadership cares about the wellbeing of its employees and is genuinely interested in building a happy, healthy workforce, then you may want to emphasize how growing the team will reduce the stress on you and prevent you from burning out and leaving. (Unfortunately, that is a big IF in the nonprofit sector.)

Few executive directors really understand the level of stress involved in nonprofit communications and marketing work. They woefully underestimate the time it takes to do good work and the increasingly technical nature of the job, which requires using numerous kinds of software every day.  It’s important that you educate them about the realities of your work. Tell them what you need to be successful in your work and also to be satisfied as an employee.

Emphasize Creating Space and Time for Strategy

Overworked communicators are doing, doing, doing all the time. There is so much to do. But in all that activity, you crowd out the time you need to think, solve big problems, and be strategic. You need breathing room to do all of that. Growing the team will give you the capacity to make strategic decisions so that the “doing” has meaning and produces results.

Emphasize How Building Internal Capacity Creates CALM (Collaboration, Agility, Logic, and Methods)

If your organization is farming out a lot of pieces of the communications workload to freelancers, it may make sense to build some of that capacity in-house instead. There are certain situations where hiring outside expertise makes sense, but if you are outsourcing core communications functions, odds are that work is taking too long or isn’t quite on point. By bringing that work together in-house, you can create a level of focus, consistency, and expertise that is hard to reach with freelancers. That in turn results in better decisions and work products because it creates more opportunities for internal collaboration, agility, logical decision making, and smoother workflows and methods.

What’s worked for you in building your nonprofit’s communications team? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments. 

Published On: March 3, 2022|Categories: Communications Team Management, Relationships, and Boundaries|