Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

September 4, 2007

Nonprofit face hiring challenges

While concerns about a perceived crisis in recruiting and retaining professional and support staff may not be as serious as they seem, filling jobs still poses big problems for nonprofits.

Those are the findings of a new survey by the Nonprofit Listening Post Project at Johns Hopkins University.

A study last year by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the Meyer Foundation, for example, found three in four nonprofit executive directors planned to leave their jobs within five years.

Fueling the turnover, the study said, were fundraising pressures, weak boards, low pay and poor support for management.

But the new Nonprofit Listening Post survey says that among nearly 85 percent of nonprofits that reported recruiting for jobs in the previous year, over 80 percent were satisfied with the qualifications and commitment of the candidates they attracted.

Still, the survey found, 87 percent of nonprofits found recruiting “somewhat challenging,” particularly because they could not offer competitive pay and could offer only limit opportunities for job advancement.

Nonprofits also found it tough to recruit diverse professionals and support staff, with 49 percent of nonprofits that responded saying it was “extremely challenging” to recruit people of color for information-technology jobs, compared to 28 percent of nonprofits that found it that difficult to recruit candidates generally for those jobs.

And 60 percent of nonprofits responding said it was extremely challenging to recruit people of color for professional fundraising jobs, compared to 49 percent of nonprofits that found it that difficult to recruit candidates generally for those jobs.

“Barely half” of responding nonprofits reported “significant” or “very significant” problems in recruiting and retaining professional or support staff, and 43 percent of nonprofits reported that difficulty in retaining staff.

The personnel challenges facing nonprofits are critical, and part of a larger need nonprofits face in strengthening their organizational “capacity” and their overall leadership, particularly their boards.

To address those challenges, nonprofits need to work a lot harder, and they a lot more support from donors and funding organizations.

Without that investment of time, money and attention, nonprofits will be poorly equipped to deal with the urgent social problems facing society.


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