Survey: Nonprofit Employers Face Turnover Issues as Misperceptions Linger

Nonprofit HR reports that nearly half of nonprofit employees are looking to switch jobs in the next five years—and a quarter want to get out of the field entirely. Advancement and compensation issues may explain why.

Could your organization see nearly half of its employees turn over in the next five years?

If that sounds like a nightmare scenario for you, you might want to buckle in, because the trend lines seem to suggest that turnover is about to become a more significant issue—and finding replacements might prove a challenge, too.

According to Nonprofit HR’s Social Sector Insight study, 23 percent of the more than 1,000 current nonprofit workers surveyed have disregarded nonprofits as a future option, with nearly half of those who said no (49 percent) saying that the organizations don’t pay enough.

Additionally, the report found that 45 percent of current nonprofit workers would look into different roles within the next five years. Other reasons for disregarding a nonprofit role include a lack of long-term opportunities (cited by 19 percent of respondents) and issues with how the nonprofits are run as a business (12 percent).

In a news release, Nonprofit HR CEO Lisa Brown Alexander noted that the results show a lasting misperception that nonprofits aren’t competitive from either a professional growth or compensation standpoint—and how that is creating long-term issues for the nonprofit field.

“These statistics are alarming and should serve as a warning to social impact organizations of all types who have not adapted a talent attraction strategy to remain competitive,” she said. “Gone are the days of talented professionals being willing to take a vow of poverty to work for a cause or a mission they are passionate about.”

Another issue that Nonprofit HR cites as a factor in this situation is the rise of social enterprise firms, such as B Corporations, for-profit companies with a charitable focus that are attracting employees who might have once chosen to work at a nonprofit.

“Still, nonprofits can connect with both current and future talent by communicating how they impact the communities that they serve, their unique benefits, and by emphasizing monetary and nonmonetary rewards,” the firm emphasized.

The data reflects a need by nonprofit employers to better workplace culture, take up wellness issues, focus on employee recognition, and improve compensation strategies.

(yacobchuk/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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