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What Your Organization Can Learn from Nonprofit Employment Practices Surveys

Employment practices in all industries offer numerous lessons. The nonprofit sector is no exception. There are takeaways in how to correct the weaknesses of certain practices and how to amplify the success of certain strengths. Plus, comparing nonprofit and for-profit practices contextualizes what the nonprofit sector does well and why it does it well. The benefits to the sector expand when individual nonprofits contribute what they have learned from their own practices, allowingt other organizations to apply these lessons to their own practices.

What Your Organization Can Learn from Nonprofit Employment Practices Surveys

Taking the 2017 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey is a great way to share your organization’s experiences. Produced annually by Nonprofit HR since 2007, the Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey provides a snapshot of current employment practices and discuss the economic trends and implications of these practices. To see what your organization might learn from participating in the survey, check out these lessons taken from the results of past surveys:

1. Job Growth

Perhaps one of the most important takeaways from the Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey is job growth. Especially in recent years, tracking nonprofit hiring rates and projecting their growth has provided valuable insights into how the nonprofit sector compares to other industries and how the sector rebounded from the 2008 economic recession.

In 2014, the survey found that 10.7 million Americans were employed by the nonprofit sector, making it the third-largest U.S. industry behind retail and manufacturing. In 2015, the nonprofit growth was projected to outpace that of the private sector, and in 2016, results showed that nonprofits continued to experience growth while the private sector remained stagnant. Fifty-seven percent of nonprofits anticipated creating new positions compared to only 36 percent of for-profit companies. The number of nonprofits hiring increased by 7 percent in 2016, and the number of nonprofits decreasing staff size shrunk by 3 percent.

2. Hiring Practices

Looking at hiring practices in the nonprofit sector highlights one of the greatest differences between nonprofits and for-profit companies: nonprofits don’t budget for hiring and recruitment. As of 2016, 77 percent of nonprofits did not have a formal recruitment budget, and 60 percent didn’t have a formal recruitment strategy. Over half of nonprofit organizations reported that they had no plans to change their recruitment strategies.

Nonprofits have relied heavily on informal networks to hire and find new talent. In 2015, 91 percent of nonprofits reported “using a network of friends and colleagues as one of their primary recruiting sources.” Although this is common in many industries, an overreliance on this personal network when looking for prospective talent can negatively impact diversity within an organization.

For the last five years, one in three nonprofits have reported that “budget restraints” are their biggest staffing challenges. With numerous talent and HR challenges, it is difficult to compete with the private sector.

3. Retention

The surveys also reveal the challenges nonprofits face in the areas of retention and succession. Nonprofits aren’t positioned to retain talent and will need new retention strategies to survive in a competitive job market.

Half of the nonprofits that participated in the 2016 survey said they didn’t have a form success plan. One in three nonprofits report their biggest retention challenge is retaining younger staff. Other retention challenges exacerbated as the sector recovers from the recession include:

  • Inability to pay competitively
  • Inability to promote staff
  • Excessive workloads

Help Identify Employment and Talent Trends in the Sector

When it comes to growth, context is essential. In order to plan for sector growth in the future, it is necessary to understand how progress happened in the past and how things are progressing right now. Your participation in the 10th annual Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey will help identify employment and talent trends in the sector. The survey is cited frequently in such outlets as the New York Times and the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and countless nonprofit professionals rely on the data to understand how the sector is changing.

After you take the quick, 20-minute survey, you’ll receive access to the survey report and infographic before anyone else. The 2017 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey deadline has been extended to June 9, so fill out the form here to access the survey now.

The preceding post is by Abbie Wade, a communications coordinator for GuideStar. She is currently a rising senior at The George Washington University, studying Journalism & Mass Communication and Political Science.

Topics: Nonprofit HR Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey