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Five Ways to Create Virtual Camaraderie

Senior Manager, Learning and Organizational Development (Former)

Turnover among fundraising staff has always been a challenge for nonprofits. Now, with a hot job market and employees demanding more flexibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenge to maintain and motivate high performers is even greater. Offering employees the ability to work remotely is one way nonprofits can increase job satisfaction and retain top talent.

However, remote work comes with its own set of challenges. It can be isolating, even for the most introverted person, and organizations might struggle to keep colleagues connected to company culture when they are not in the office.

Consider these five strategies to keep teams cohesive and engaged, even when they are dispursed:

  1. Schedule weekly virtual colleague socials: Coffee chats, lunch breaks, or happy hours may be more useful now than ever. While teams can’t simply gather to talk about what they did over the weekend or swap stories about the latest Netflix binge, these virtual social times allow colleagues to reconnect over simple everyday life.
  1. Download the Marco Polo app: Think of it as an app that allows users to leave video voicemails that they can check on their own time and respond to at their leisure. The makers of the app call it a “video walkie-talkie.” Messages are sent and available for the recipient to view, but participants don’t actually talk in real time. Rather, they take turns leaving videos for each other, taking e-greetings to a new level.
  1. Create a #Watercooler Slack channel: Think about all the random things discussed at the watercooler: great books, a funny story, or brainstorming on a recent project. Take that chatter to Slack to encourage and facilitate these stories and ideas with colleagues throughout the day.
  1. Schedule 1:1 check-in-chats: Everyone needs a break during the day, so why not set up a Zoom meeting with a colleague and just catch up for 20 minutes? Friendships should continue to develop even in these remote times. Maybe even put someone in your organization in charge of reaching out to colleagues over these next few weeks to build connections.
  1. Start a wellness challenge: Spring is here, and we are all itching to move our bodies. Set up a team wellness challenge with offerings for physical, mental, financial, and spiritual activities to encourage colleagues to tend to themselves (and a little healthy competition never hurts). We at Graham-Pelton are hard at work at our firm-wide challenge as we speak!

At Graham-Pelton, we believe that humanity depends on philanthropy. And at its core, humanity depends on one another. Above all, reinforce the importance of strengthening ties among people. All of us, even coworkers, need each other to get through these unprecedented times.

Maria DiLorenzo is Senior Manager, Learning and Organizational Development at Graham-Pelton and can be reached at 1-800-608-7955 or mdilorenzo@grahampelton.com.