Motivation is an important subject within all sectors of work, whether it be the for-profit sector or the nonprofit sector. A manager that can effectively tap into and cater the motivations of his or her employees will benefit from more work, higher efficiency and better workplace morale. In the for-profit sector, the notion of motivation is normally simple and quite straightforward; the more money and monetary benefits that an employee receives the more they are willing to see the company succeed as a whole. Nonprofit work motivation is often completely opposite of motivation in the for-profit sector; especially in smaller and mid-sized nonprofit organizations. When conducting research on the motivational reasons that people decide to work for nonprofit organizations through scholarly articles and personal conversation, one realizes that the will to work for a nonprofit organization transcends the purely monetary reasons present in other sectors and because of this nonprofit work is not for everyone.
There exists a plethora of research that seeks to study and explain what motivates individuals to pursue work in the nonprofit sector. Much of it is based on interviews and surveys conducted by researchers of people that work in the nonprofit sector. Researchers Jessica Word and Heather Carpenter (2013) state that employees of nonprofits are “significantly motivated because they believe in their organization and its mission.”
What Motivates the employees of NextStep Orlando?
Employees who were questioned uniformly expressed two similarities. One was a desire to help others and make a difference, and the other was because they believed that the mission of NextStep Orlando was really helpful and that supporting the mission would be a great way to help others and make a difference.
Fellowship with Coworkers
Multiple employees stated that there was a wonderful team dynamic at NextStep Orlando. They often looked forward to work because, their place of employment was full of coworkers that were genuinely friends with them. Liza Riedel, the executive director, expressed a sentiment that it is often extremely difficult to find a group of individuals that will work together as well as the team at NextStep Orlando do. This team cohesiveness makes her want to reward them often. Even though team cohesiveness can be difficult to obtain, the lack of it can absolutely destroy a nonprofit’s effectiveness, especially if it is as small as NextStep Orlando. With only nine employees, 2 employees that are at odds can seriously hinder the day-to-day functions at the facility. However a team that seriously care for each other can greatly improve efficiency.
Multiple employees also stated that personally seeing the change that they are making motivates them greatly. Seeing the smiles on the faces of clients as they take their first steps and make strides in their recovery. Seeing a new client smile as they stand for the first time in years is greatly motivating. The fulfillment that comes with these experiences is caused by the knowledge that the trainer themself is making such a big difference in the client’s lives. It is imperative for nonprofit workers to see firsthand the fruit of their labor; to see exactly how their self-sacrifice is making a difference. Not doing so can quickly demotivate employees of nonprofits. Ms. Riedel sums this up perfectly when she says: “Seeing the smiles on their [clients] faces and family members’ faces makes it all worth it when you close the door at the end of the day.”
Luis Ojeda, is a Activity Based Trainer at NextStep Orlando. Luis served for four years as a Marine with the United States Armed Forces. However, if you asked Luis which label he valued the most, it would be that of “father”. When questioned regarding his motivation for working in the nonprofit field, Mr. Ojeda immediately stated that he does it because of his daughter. He wishes to financially provide for her while showing her that it is truly fulfilling to help others.