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How To Keep Your Nonprofit's Morale High When Working Remotely

We’ve often joked that the future is now as nonprofit teams have made the move to a distributed workforce model, with some working from home while others work from the brick-and-mortar of the nonprofit itself.

However, truth is stranger than fiction so even if your nonprofit hadn’t yet subscribed to the notion that the future was upon us, circumstances have thrust the dubious and hesitant into remote work.

And all this change then begs the question: How can nonprofits create a sense of community, shared culture and fun without shared spaces, water coolers, and break rooms?

It just takes intentionality and a little ingenuity to keep nonprofit morale high.

At BELAY, we have over 10 years of experience being a 100 percent remote team with more than 1,100 employees and contractors and an award-winning culture – and can assure you that it’s surprisingly more actionable than you might expect.

Because there is one thing – one oft-overlooked and neglected little thing – that, if cultivated and nurtured properly, can change the course of working and leading a nonprofit from home.

Know what it is?

It’s trust. Trust and just about every other mission-critical element of your nonprofit's success are mutually inclusive; they simply cannot exist without trust.

You can tell someone you trust them but if you’re not putting your money – and their paycheck – where your mouth is, it amounts to nothing more than lip service. You can tell your teenage child that you trust them to drive your car but if you never hand over the keys, your actions paint a different picture.

At work and in life, trust is a currency. And just like a currency, it can be earned and saved over time – and depleted in seconds.

And we have one thing – one seemingly small approach to trust – that yields a huge impact: We choose to fill all gaps with trust, knowing that we are all here to serve one another. We even encourage filling the gap with trust even before you feel like someone has earned it.

Sounds crazy, right? But from day one, if you fill the gap with trust, the momentum will pick up big time in your relationships – even when nonprofit teams are distributed.

But – and this is a relatively big ‘but’ – this does come with a big caveat: It comes with recognizing that mistakes will happen.

Not if; when.

And even then, what do we call on each other to do? We encourage each other to – yet again – fill that gap with trust and really believe the best in that person.

Why? Because we all make mistakes. And just as we’ve been instructed by the Golden Rule, we forgive because we, too, want to be forgiven.

Building a culture of trust is the single most important goal you can have as a leader. Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive, more energetic, more collaborative, stay with their employers longer, and take ownership of their work and the outcomes as a whole.

So take that leap of trust – trust in your ability to hire world-class employees and their ability to do exactly what you entrusted to them in the first place – and be prepared to reap the rewards.