As the Donor Relations Officer at Saint Michael's College for the past five years I've been able to watch a gradual but profound change in the way fundraising/development teams treat their donors. In the past, the term "stewardship" was used to describe the activities after the "ask" (never before asking a donor...that's "cultivation"). More recently, colleges, universities, and other non-profits are embracing a more donor-centric approach that seeks to drastically increase the scope of involvement with donors; encompassing not only the role of stewarding gifts but now looking to acknowledge, recognize, and engage donors. This is the new world of Donor Relations.
It wasn't until I happen to recently re-read Lynne Wester's gem "The 4 Pillars of Donor Relations", that I realized the human resources profession is primed for, or already starting, a similar switch in both terminology and approach to Talent Management.
Traditional HR is not too dissimilar from "Stewardship". HR has typically concerned itself with managing benefits, ensuring everyone is paid on time, and coordinating the organization/company's compliance with the right federal and state regulations. Sure they've managed the job postings and provided some advice to hiring managers, but I think most would agree that a bulk of HR's work is done after the hiring of employee.. This is what Stewardship did for philanthropic gifts. We made sure the gift was designated/allocated correctly, the donor got a gift receipt, and ensured the Finance Office correctly spent the money. This all worked when employees left at the 5 o'clock whistle, or didn't care much about what happened to their philanthropic gifts.
Yet, times are changing. Just as donors are becoming more discerning about their philanthropic gifts, so too are employees becoming more discerning about where they work. Work is no longer 9-to-5 as employees blur their personal and professional lives. Employees are also seeking more meaning from, and interaction with, their employers. Professional development opportunities are now a deciding factor for prospective employees. Frequent recognition, feedback, and mentoring are now the call of the day. Add to this, the growing challenge of finding and keeping a high-quality, talented workforce and now HR can't just be content with making sure checks go out on time. They now must make time to develop the right set of programs to acknowledge, recognize, and engage a discerning work force. Enter Talent Management.
In my next four posts over the next few weeks, I'm going to show how Lynne's ideas not only apply to donors, but can also help "human resources" transition to "talent management".