Mmmmm…Potlucks! A Low-Cost Idea for Building Staff Morale

If you walk into our office right now you’ll see silver streamers hanging from the ceiling and a big blue banner on the wall. This is what’s left from our most recent lunchtime potluck. (It happened to be combined with a baby shower, hence the streamers and banner!)

Once a quarter, the whole staff gathers together for lunch and shares a delicious meal. Each time, a different prep team is responsible for planning the menu and making the food.  These lunches, always delicious, have been a huge hit. 

Why do we have potlucks?  It’s a simple way to bring our staff together to socialize without focusing on work.  You get to know the coworkers on your prep team in a different, deeper way as you plan and prepare the meal.  At lunch, there’s also time for bonding with those you don’t work with every day, which deepens relationships among all staff and encourages creativity.  At the end of these gatherings, I’m satisfied and ultimately more productive for the whole week!

These staff get-togethers don’t cost our nonprofit money or time because the food is homemade and everyone takes a break for lunch anyway.  (We all do that right? We get up from our desks and go to lunch?  OK, maybe not, but we should more often.)  No one has to make special arrangements for their kids or plan around an after-hours function

Our potlucks are just one more way the Center support its staff.  They’re a great morale booster, and everyone looks forward to them. 

What does your nonprofit do that makes you feel supported? Here’s a good list to get you started. Please comment with ideas that are working in your nonprofit so we can borrow them from each other! 

By the way, check out one of the favorite recipes from a recent lunch!

Allie Thomson is development and financial assistant at the N.C. Center for Nonprofits and has been part of the staff team since 2010 when she began as a volunteer. 


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