Expert Tips for Retaining Your Fundraising Staff

We asked Victoria Silverman, Managing Founder and CEO of Cook Silverman Search what advice she has for retaining staff.

“The first step is for the organization to do the hard work to provide an environment that is commensurate with what it is asking of its employees,” Silverman explains. “I find that asking hard questions can help provide a groundwork for the ability to attract and maintain staff.”

She recommends that organizations ask themselves:

  • Is the board diverse and representative of the community it serves?
  • Is there diversity in the organization in senior leadership positions?
  • Is the organizational environment inclusive, warm, and welcoming?
  • Does the organization take time to onboard its staff and board members properly?
  • Are there consistent and well-thought-out reviews?
  • Do you offer bonuses for development staff based on activities like number of monthly donor visits or working with board members on their prospect pools?

Silverman points out that work hour flexibility, a hybrid work schedule and health and wellness opportunities are increasingly important to employees  in addition to standard concerns like  pay (and bonuses), benefits and personal growth opportunities.

“Your talented staff are being tempted by other opportunities from recruiters and other organizations,” Silverman says. “If you don’t take the time and make the effort to retain your employees,  you will likely find yourself in the market for new staff.”


Victoria Silverman is the Managing Founder of Cook Silverman Search. Victoria has served the nonprofit sector for more than thirty years. Throughout her career, Victoria has worked in senior fundraising, advancement and management positions in higher education, arts, biotech, engineering and environment sectors at Stanford University, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of California, the American Film Institute, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Marine Mammal Center, and the Buck Institute for Age Research, among others. She has worked with heads of state, CEOs of major corporations, scientists, Hollywood celebrities, and leaders of industry. Victoria is an AIRS© Certified Diversity and Inclusion Recruiter.

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