Study: Why Nonprofit Workers Are More Engaged

A new study from Work for Good, a nonprofit job platform, finds that nonprofit employees are highly engaged with their work and likely to stay in nonprofit roles despite lower compensation.

If you like to spend your days helping a cause important to you, then a nonprofit job will likely keep you happy and engaged. In fact, a study from Work for Good, a nonprofit job site that is a nonprofit itself, released a new study [registration] that shows exactly that: Mission-driven people love doing purposeful work. Here are some other highlights from The Nonprofit Workforce Speaks:

Mission-driven workers are especially engaged. If you’re looking for people who are driven and impassioned by the work they do, look no further than nonprofit workers. Ninety-three percent—nearly three times the national average, based on a 2015 Gallup report—say they are highly or somewhat engaged in their jobs.

Once people start working in nonprofits, they are likely to stick around. Although 58 percent of nonprofit workers did not originally set out to find a nonprofit job, 88 percent plan to work in nonprofits long term, and 90 percent recommend nonprofit work to others—all of which Work for Good attributes to a current climate of increased social awareness and responsibility.

Organizational values and culture are top priorities for nonprofit job seekers. Paychecks are important, but company vision, commitment to the mission, and culture reign supreme. Nonprofit workers want to know that their values align with the organization they work for and will research profusely before accepting a job. They use internet search, online reviews, offline networking, web-based professional groups, and the potential employer’s website to see if an organization is the right fit.

It’s not all about money, but compensation still matters. Nonprofit workers understand that their work’s purpose is greater than their compensation, but the majority—52 percent—say they are financially uncomfortable. They want to work for organizations that will help develop their skills, offer opportunities for advancement, and make them feel valued so that they can continue to support their employer’s mission, albeit a little more comfortably. Workers believe that on-the-job stretch opportunities, conferences, classes, mentoring relationships, and professional memberships can all be beneficial to professional development. In the end, compensation is the top motivation to pursue another job.

In the study, Work for Good CEO Karen Beavor notes that the survey results are promising for the industry as a whole.

“We were encouraged to find both a high level of commitment to the work and clear opportunities for employers to improve methods for attracting and retaining top talent,” Beavor says. “Even better: Many of the changes those opportunities require are relatively simple, and each translates into a greater sense of loyalty, career satisfaction, and workforce cohesion, resulting in a workplace where employees thrive.”

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Jeff Hsin

By Jeff Hsin


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