August 31, 2021
From the front lines: Nonprofit employees share highs and lows of working during a pandemic, social unrest
NFPN survey reveals employees’ perceptions about how they’re coping during a crisis — and why some are thinking about leaving their jobs
by Shari Finnell, editor/writer, Not-for-profit News

Second in a series of articles based on a “How Are You Doing?” survey conducted by Charitable Advisors

As reported in a previous Charitable Advisors’ Not-for-profit News (NFPN) article, a survey revealed that nearly 54 percent of Central Indiana nonprofit employees are thinking about leaving their jobs within the next 12 months. Of the 461 employees who responded to the survey, 40 percent said that timeline would apply to a 90-day timeframe.

With high employee turnover impacting everything from productivity to overall employee morale, numerous survey respondents gave further insights on why they left their job, why they’re thinking about leaving their job and, in some cases, why their employers are getting it right and, consequently, why they’ve decided to stay.

One survey respondent, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the pressures of shut-down orders, downsizing, lack of direction from leadership, an increased workload, and, later, a demand to return to the office amid rising COVID-19 cases led her to resign from her previous position.

The employee, who agreed to a telephone interview, said that she always has been drawn to the nonprofit sector because it’s rewarding to support the Indianapolis community she grew up in. “I have been working with nonprofits for 10 years,” said the employee, who furthered her education by graduating from the Lilly School of Philanthropy in 2018. “I worked briefly in for-profit, in sales, and I really didn’t feel like it was fulfilling for me as an individual.

However, she recently faced the challenging decision of leaving a nonprofit job before securing another. “Going through the pandemic was a time of great uncertainty. It was difficult,” she recalled. “Our organization didn’t have good leadership. While everyone was reacting in the moment, employees’ fears and concerns were not addressed until it was past time to address them. People’s concerns seemed to be dismissed. There’s something to be said for leading with empathy and acknowledging the unknowns, while at the same time accomplishing your goals and getting things done.’

The employee said that she experienced bouts of high anxiety during the pandemic, especially when the outbreak was first reported in Indiana in March 2020. “Uncertainty is a difficult spot for me,” she said. “I was concerned about my own health conditions, and I raised concerns with HR. When I did get answers, the response was, “Hold tight.” She also faced similar challenges in connecting with her direct supervisor. “They were very dismissive of our concerns,” she said.

When employees were asked to come into the office — before the city’s “stay-at-home” order was lifted. “I flatly rejected,” she said. To her, that request reflected “tone deafness” to employees’ fears and concerns.

Donor engagement and retention techniques: Invest time now to solidify donor relationships
by Andy Canada, senior consultant, director of data analytics, Johnson, Grossnickle and Associate

While we need to work to engage all of our donors, many nonprofits have experienced the benefit of an influx of new donors in response to the pandemic’s challenges. What can you do to engage and retain these new donors as well as deepen your relationships with your existing donor pool?

Donor Engagement

While we are operating in unusual times, you do not want to throw out your tried-and-true ways of engaging and stewarding your donors. But, you might consider adding the following strategies as well.

Personal connections: Think creatively about how to create personal connections with donors, such as engaging with donors via FaceTime to capture a specific meaningful moment at your organization. Engage board members, leadership team members, volunteers, and other donors in thank you calls. Hearing from someone new will expand donors’ connections and engagement with your organization.

Technology techniques: Using technology to your advantage has hopefully become easier than ever over the past year. There are multiple platforms that can be very effective with donors who are now more familiar with different means of communicating. Tell your story from the perspective of those you serve — send short video messages telling the story of how lives have been changed by gifts from generous donors. You might also share short “day in the life” videos from the heart of your organization—such as the teacher, direct care staff, curator, cook—to give a glimpse into real-world impact.

Peer engagement: Encourage peer-to-peer fundraising or use third-party events to deepen engagement and spread your reach. Personal referrals will never go out of style. Identify donors who can advocate on your behalf to reach out and engage new donors. This will create an additional touchpoint and provide a way to ask for additional support from a peer or for a specific program.

Donor Retention

Research from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project indicates first time donors only donate again about 20 percent of the time. However, if a donor makes a second donation, the chance of them continuing to contribute is 60 percent. Invest in new donors now, because retaining a donor for multiple years will more than make up for the initial investment.

NeighborLink Indianapolis Foundation has promoted Rachel Nelson to executive director. Nelson previously was the director of external affairs and communications for the organization.
Leadership Academy of Madison County has named Jesse Reynolds as executive director. Reynolds previously was director of community relations for the Office of Lawrence Township Trustee. — Inside Indiana Business
CREA Foundation, Inc. has named Arvetta Jideonwo as executive director and head of social impact. Jideonwo most recently served as executive director for Bosma Visionary Opportunities Foundation.
Starfish Initiative has named Crystal Givens as president and chief executive officer. Givens previously held positions at Child Care Aware of America and Early Learning Indiana.
Indiana Humanities has hired Marlena Ratchford as bookkeeper and program assistant. Ratchford previously served as a program manager for the Indiana State Department of Health.  
Kiwanis Children’s Fund has named Michael Malik as director of development. Malik previously served as major gifts director for United Way of Central Indiana.  
Indiana Historical Society has awarded $500,000 from its Heritage Support Grants program to 18 local historical societies from across the state. The initiative is supported by a grant from Lilly Endowment, which plans to award a total of $2.5 million to local historical organizations until 2024. See recipients  

The Indiana Department of Education has awarded the Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation an $8.3 million grant to help more underserved students access college learning while still enrolled in high school. Read/watch video 

The Community Connections for People with Disabilities grant program is issuing more than $1.58 million in federal funding to 12 communities that are partnering with nonprofits to increase community and workplace inclusion for people with disabilities. Read

CareSource has announced a sponsorship of $25,000 for NAMI Indiana, the state chapter for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, to support and expand the organization's work with Crisis Intervention Teams in Indiana. 

The Health Resource and Service Administration has awarded Affiliated Service Providers in Indiana, Inc., a $2.2 million grant to train healthcare paraprofessionals. The program, which leads to a certification, will offer training on how to assist families dealing with substance use disorders and domestic violence. Read

Foster Success has launched a workforce readiness program to support teens and young adults who are currently in foster care or have previously been in the system. The Workforce Readiness program, which is designed to ensure the participants find consistent employment, is funded by a five-year Lilly Endowment grant. Read

How do you compare to 100+ regional nonprofits? Complete Barnes Dennig’s 2021 Non-profit Compensation Benefits and Benchmarking Study. To participate, contact Ian McManis
Stakeholder feedback: The key to smart decision-making webinar on Sept. 14 at noon. Learn how to obtain important information to expand your services, improve or change current programs and deepen donor relationships and/or engagement. Presented by Johnson Grossnickle and Associates. Cost: Free. Register

Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving online lecture featuring Dr. Tyrone McKinley Freeman, an author and associate professor at IU Lilly School of Philanthropy, on Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. Presented by the Indianapolis Public Library. Cost: Free. Register

What is supported employment? webinar on Sept. 16 at 12:30 p.m. This session outlines how supported employment can benefit people with disabilities and enhance your organization’s inclusive environment, and how to partner with agencies providing these services. Presented by Tangram. Cost: Free. Register

Repairing the breach webinar on Sept. 21 at noon. This session allows participants to hear from community workers involved with collaborative efforts around repairing the relationship between citizens and law enforcement. The session, part of a three-part Public Safety & Criminal Justice series, is hosted by Leadership Indianapolis. Cost: $30. Register

Recruiting and retaining a dynamic board webinar on Sept. 23 at 11 a.m. Learn the life cycle of organizations, understand major steps involved in forming the board structure, and prepare a board growth strategy. Presented by BKD. Cost: Free. Register

Great governance webinar on Sept. 30 at 9 a.m. Identify the legal and core responsibilities of board service, differentiate between governance and management and demonstrate strong risk management through policies and procedure. Presented by BKD. Cost: Free. Register

Together IRL (in real life) symposium on Oct. 5-6 will explore various topics, including Closing the Racial Wealth Gap and Faith & Action. The event also includes the Philanthropy Leads dinner, featuring a fireside chat with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Lilly Endowment CEO Clay Robbins. Hosted by Mutz Philanthropic Leadership Institute. Cost: $75-$200. IPA members/ $100-$350 nonmembers. Register
United Way of Central Indiana is looking for volunteers to help prepare the materials used for its ReadUP program. Volunteers will be assigned with various tasks, including arranging and labeling books and making program folders. Register. Send questions to Tony Hart 
This tool, presented by Charitable Advisors, helps teams prepare for an unexpected leadership departure or illness. Spend 30 minutes with your executive committee and current ED/CEO to talk through our Emergency Succession template and identify who would do what in the case of an illness or unexpected departure. Download
Establish a board policy that specifies the process for calling and conducting an executive session, guidelines for the routine use of them, and issues that are acceptable for closed meetings. Download the resource
Our sponsor marketplace serves to further connect our readers with our advertisers who are focused on serving nonprofits. To learn about each sponsor's nonprofit services, click on its logo.

Space available for nonprofit in Fountain Square area

Rental spaces available for nonprofits in newly renovated 6,200-square-foot building at 2119 Prospect St. Available as a single space or two spaces with designated entrance and bathrooms, HVAC and common areas, with parking in an adjacent lot. Buildout to suit. Contact Harold Miller, 317-753-2034.

Could you lead an organization that has assisted four thousand victims of crime and abuse victims each year and helps them move forward or start in a new life? Do you feel passionate about advocating on behalf of marginalized and traumatized individuals? Prevail has offered a full range of comprehensive, restorative services to victims for the past 35 years and is a recognized leader in victim advocacy. We empower victims of crime and abuse on their path to healing, while engaging the community to support safe, healthy relationships. Programs and services including housing opportunities are offered to teens and adults along with their children. 

Would you like to help transform the lives of children with motor challenges and celebrate alongside families as their children achieve various developmental milestones such as walking, talking, and other self-help skills. You can lead an organization that offers the only Conductive Education program in the state of Indiana. The Jackson Center equips children with motor challenges associated with cerebral palsy, brain injury, and stroke with the physical ability and confidence to attain the highest quality of independent life. Our primary focus is the practice of Conductive Education, which develops motor skills through repetition, peer interaction, and positive reinforcement while integrating with traditional therapy.
To view all jobs, visit the Not-for-profit News jobs' board.

Senior Leadership - Tolson Center for Community Excellence

Association Manager (part-time) - Indiana Association of Public Education


Grants Coordinator - Little Red Door Cancer Agency

Director of Corporate & Foundation Giving - Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Associate Director of Annual Giving & Communication - Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Development Executive Assistant and Project Manager - Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Senior Development Officer - Indiana University Health

Director of Foundation and Government Relations - Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites

Development Officer - Anderson University

Senior Advancement Officer (SAO) - Delta Tau Delta Educational Foundation

Major Gift Officer - Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana

Foundation Development Specialist - Ascension St. Vincent Foundation

Director of Development - La Plaza, Inc.

Director of Development - The Arc of Indiana


Membership Specialist - Indiana CPA Society

Project Manager - Damien Center

Director of Programs - Southeast Community Services

Operations Manager (Part-time) - Spring Oath Help Institute


Communications Manager - Arts for Lawrence

Marketing and Communications Coordinator - Center for Congregations

Creative Specialist - Delta Upsilon International Fraternity

Communications Director - YMCA of Greater Indianapolis


Senior Staff Accountant - HVAF of Indiana

Human Resources

Client Support Specialist - Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County, Inc.


Research Associate - United Way of Central Indiana

Data, Evaluation & Impact Specialist - Southeast Community Services


Mobile Advocate - Prevail, Inc.

Match Specialist - Starfish Initiative

Therapist - Children's Bureau

Health Wraparound Facilitator - Adult & Child Health

Health Wraparound Therapist - Adult & Child Health

Director of Engagement - Adelante Schools

Impact Project Associate - United Way of Central Indiana

Education Specialist - La Plaza, Inc.

Financial Coach - Southeast Community Services


Health Clinician/Pharmacy


Member Engagement Coordinator - Indiana Osteopathic Association

Mental Wellness Community Trainer - Exodus Refugee Immigration, Inc