Where Are the Nonprofit Workers?
In the past year, I have interfaced with nonprofits in a variety of ways. One central theme that continued to occur is the major issue of having the quantity and quality of nonprofit workers an organization needs. In several nonprofits I noticed external raiding, where one nonprofit simply provided an on-the-spot $15,000 bonus to two employees to leave a nonprofit immediately, and they did.
In another scenario as a consultant, I witnessed at least three situations where there was an opening at a nonprofit and internally departments raided other departments for the best employees to fill positions. That left departments even weaker going into the busiest time of the year for fundraising.
According to a December 2021 report, “The Scope and Impact of Nonprofit Workforce Shortages,” from the National Council of Nonprofits, nearly a quarter of nonprofits surveyed had less than 9% of its positions open; 33.5% reported vacancies between 10% and 19%; and more than 42% were trying to fill more than 20% of positions. Job openings have been hitting record levels.
Nonprofits have attempted to raise salaries, offer more flexible work schedules, offer remote work, and reduce weekly hours worked. Nonprofits are continuing to increase pay, offer rewards, be flexible with requests, cross train employees, promote wellness and establish new career ladders. The struggle to fill open positions continues.
In February, a coalition of nonprofits sent a letter to President Joe Biden and congressional leaders asking for relief due to accelerated worker shortages caused by the pandemic. The letter noted three critical current problems.
- A reduction in donations. There has been reduced donations as charitable giving has stagnated, so the coalition requested that the universal charitable deduction, which expired last year, be reinstated and expanded.
- A worker shortage. Nonprofits are struggling to fill vacant positions. Salary competition and lack of adequate child care are causes of the nonprofit worker shortage. The coalition requested a variety of reforms.
- A decline of volunteers. The pandemic halted volunteerism for nonprofits, and many of those volunteers have yet to return. The coalition recommended establishing capacity-building grants and increasing the volunteer car mileage rate so more volunteers will participate in nonprofits.
As we moved deeper in 2022, nonprofits continued to face the great resignation, supply shortages, cyber security threats and lack of funding. The ongoing COVID-19 impact means employees expect a hybrid work model. With respect to employees, employers must build strong leadership teams and provide work flexibility with priority on people. Nonprofits need to establish adjusted primary budgets plus contingency budgets with inflation in mind. The total strategy of nonprofit fundraising needs to be evaluated, with a focus both in the short and long term.
Organizations cannot provide the same level of service without the right balance of employees. Nonprofits are raising awareness of the current employment challenge, analyzing data to identify solutions and taking action to protect communities. The ongoing high job vacancy rate is due to tremendous salary competition, plus vaccination policies.
The nonprofit sector continues to face a worker crisis. Short- and long-term operational strategies surrounding this issue must take center stage. This may affect the way a nonprofit is operated in the future. Take the time to consider a variety of issues and pursue a sound course of action. The future of your organization will depend on it.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.