The FBook

Ethical Bonus Structure for Fundraisers

In Random on March 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In a recent discussion on a group in LinkedIn, the topic of commissions for fundraisers was a hotly debated point of disagreement, and often fierce agreement, among posters.

After 50 posts, the group began to consider another question:  If not commission, then is there an ethical way to offer compensation as a bonus for work well done by fundraisers?

I posted my response, outlining my successful experience and ethical structure for providing bonus compensation to staff. The response for a copy of the outline was overwhelming and after responding to a few by email, I decided to post it to my website for free download (PDF). You can go there and if you have further questions, feel free to contact me.

A few more thoughts on bonus compensation, and then would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Bonuses work. It’s a studied fact. But they don’t work in isolation and should be combined with non-tangible compensation as well. People want to be acknowledged and validated for their value, in ways additional to monetary compensation.

Establishing and working toward bonus goals should never be done in a vacuum. The goals-

  • Must be drawn from an organizational strategic plan, and relate directly to how the employee can help the org reach their departmental goals.
  • Must include more than just financial goals, and ideally only reflects financial goal achievement of the TEAM.
  • Must be developed in a collaborative fashion between the employee and supervising staff.
  • Must be built on the capacity for the fundraiser and the organization to achieve the goals realistically (“Can we get there from here?” is always a number one consideration in building bonus goals.)
  • Must be a PART of an overall performance management assessment tool and not the only factor.
  • Must be tracked monthly. Its only fair that the fundraiser knows where he stands on a regular basis, so that he can improve his performance or making changes to his approach. No surprises.
  • Must be calculated with a balanced, but benevolent approach and must include supervisory staff as well as Executive Leadership in determining final calculations. For smaller NPO’s that may mean ED and a Board member.
  • Must leave room for discussion. Don’t deliver it in an email or paycheck envelope, please!
If managed correctly, with sensitivity, a fierce determination to goal achievement and ongoing support- it can only be an ethical approach.

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