How to Motivate Staff and Further Your Nonprofit’s Vision


As the leader of your organization, you know that the nonprofit employees and volunteers who work alongside you have a tremendous impact on growth and success. And yet, you likely struggle with how to motivate staff so that—together—you can further your nonprofit’s vision…

Rest assured you’re not alone.

I’ve worked with a number of leaders, especially those in the nonprofit sector, who once struggled with this issue.

And I’ll share with you the same insight I provided them: The key to motivating your staff is YOU.

Yes, YOU!

To serve your cause and truly make a difference, everyone in your organization must give 100% effort, and it all starts with you.

Why Every Leader Must Learn How to Motivate Staff

Here’s the thing… As a leader, you play a vital role in your organization.

Your job isn’t just to oversee all the goings-on and ensure that you’re headed in the right direction. It’s also to inspire the nonprofit employees and volunteers on your team—those who have decided to join you in your efforts to make the world a better place.

You need to not only lead by example but also cultivate a positive work environment—one in which the members of your team feel supported, valued, and heard. In doing so, you can strengthen the bond your nonprofit employees and volunteers have with both each other and the organization.

Further, when you learn how to motivate staff and create a culture that fosters unity, you increase your chances of keeping the talented, purpose-driven team members you have, as well as bringing on new ones who are aligned with your mission!

7 Tips on How to Motivate Staff | Inspiring Others to Serve Your Cause

Now that you understand the role you play in how to motivate staff to further your nonprofit’s vision, it’s time to address the things you can actually do to lift up your team. 

Like many nonprofits, your organization likely runs fairly lean. That’s why the tips provided are focused less on monetary incentives and more on general methods of encouragement.


Let’s dive in!

1) Show Staff Members Why You Love the Organization and How It’s Different

Although you’re undoubtedly passionate about your organization, it’s crucial that your staff members know it.

When you bring on new nonprofit employees and volunteers, take the opportunity to…

By learning just how much you truly believe in what the organization is doing to improve the world, others will be moved and quick to put their best foot forward.

2) Get to Know Your Nonprofit Employees and Volunteers

As the leader of your organization, you need to remember that those who work alongside you are individuals. So, it’s important to get to know them as such.

Take the time to learn about their goals, hobbies, and dreams for the future. Find out what they like about the organization—and what they don’t.

Moreover, if you really want to learn how to motivate staff, you need to discover what motivates each team member at a personal level.

Do they like public praise, or do they prefer private recognition?

Do they feel comfortable speaking with potential donors, or are they better with behind-the-scenes work?

Are they great at multitasking, or do they like to focus on one project at a time?

In finding out as much as possible about your team members, you can ensure they’re happy with their respective positions and driven to perform well.

3) Make Sure Your Staff Members Feel Appreciated

No one accomplishes anything alone. Those on your team are helping YOU fulfill YOUR mission. Therefore, you need to make sure they feel appreciated.

Thank nonprofit employees and volunteers on a regular basis. Express your gratitude for their time and efforts. Acknowledge everything they do to keep your organization growing and thriving.

When team members feel valued and appreciated, they’re happier and more motivated. A simple thank-you can go a long way toward seeing your nonprofit’s vision realized.

4) Set Small Goals Each Week, Month, Etc.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. And it’s important to show your team how their efforts are moving the organization forward.

That’s why it’s in your best interest to set small goals along the way to fulfilling your mission. In doing so, it becomes much easier for nonprofit employees and volunteers to see that what they’re doing has an impact.

No matter how ambitious your mission may be, those on your team will be more optimistic and driven when they’re able to note their progress.

Team sitting around documents discussing goals.

5) Prioritize Work-Life Balance for Everyone

There’s no doubt about it—working at a nonprofit is incredibly fulfilling, but it can also be very tiring. And tired, overworked team members often have a hard time mustering up the energy to complete the tasks they’ve been assigned.

To avoid running into this issue, make sure to prioritize work-life balance by…

And remember, an essential part of how to motivate staff is to lead by example. That means you need to take your own advice!

6) Host Events for Your Staff

To strengthen the connection your team members have with you and your organization, make it a point to spend time together and invite them into your life. 

Host events such as luncheons and dinners, or take them to sporting events. In addition to making them feel appreciated (Hello, tip #3!), this fosters unity and camaraderie—two things your team needs.

After all, if you want to further your nonprofit’s vision, you must ensure that everyone is on the same page, working together toward a common goal.

7) Let Nonprofit Employees and Volunteers Know You Trust Them

Trust is a crucial element for keeping your staff motivated. When you give your team members your trust, it can boost their self-esteem and make them feel more confident about what they’re doing.

So, try…

In doing so, you can lift up your team, providing them with adequate space and freedom to take your organization where it needs to go.

The Takeaway

When it comes down to it, the key to motivating your staff is you—in the culture you create and the way in which you treat those who have joined your efforts.

So, if you’ve been struggling with how to motivate staff, apply the tips provided.

Start encouraging them, teaching them, trusting them, and inspiring them.

And watch as nonprofit employees and volunteers work even harder to further your organization’s vision!


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About Selah Hirsch

For more than 15 years, Selah Hirsch has worked with organizations committed to making our world a better place. She has been busy helping them get their message to connect to the hearts of their audience, refreshing their brand, and crafting their exceptional story. The result? An increase in their community engagement, donor development, and a presence that strengthens their reputation.

Selah is the founder of Pipelime, a branding agency that equips leaders to more confidently express their brand message.

She lives in Norman, OK, with her husband Michael and their three adorable, zany kids.