A goal of Nonprofit Essentials is to track the trends and parse the meaningful information from the jumble of data we all encounter every day. We’ll soon be completing our full analysis of data from last month’s nationwide Nonprofit Workforce Survey and releasing a report.
Before the survey was launched in early April 2023, we wondered if the number of responses would drop below the just over 1,000 responses to the original survey of fall 2021, given the "survey fatigue" being experienced by many in the sector. That didn’t happen. More than 1,600 people submitted responses from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Among other things, the survey sought to learn the extent to which workforce shortages are still an issue. The initial data are indisputable: nonprofit workforce shortages are still a big issue.
Your responses reveal that the shortages and related challenges persist and impose negative effects on both the nonprofit workforce and the people who rely on nonprofits every day. More than half of nonprofits identified stress and burnout as causes of their inability to fill vacancies. Human services providers were especially impacted. A common challenge noted by multiple respondents is that when an employee leaves, others are asked to take on their responsibilities, making their burdens even heavier. When nonprofits cannot hire employees quickly enough, the toll on employees stretches them thin, making it more likely for them to leave the organization or sector.
Nonprofits recognize the importance of mental health in the workplace. Many have implemented varying practices to ensure their employees feel supported and can rest from the increased demands for services. When our full report is published next month, it will include more data about policies and practices survey respondents said they have implemented to retain and attract staff, as well as other solutions they shared with us.
In addition to mobilizing nonprofits to advocate for public policy solutions to the nonprofit workforce shortage crisis, we continue to add to our series of articles describing creative approaches to attracting and retaining talent such as elevating equity, addressing burnout and stress, and discovering, nurturing, and developing talent in nontraditional ways.
The workforce shortage continues to be one of the most pressing issues for nonprofits. That’s why the National Council of Nonprofits and our network have made the workforce shortage a major focus of our advocacy and other work. While we hope the actual shortages will be temporary, we all need to recognize that the broader issues of being able to compensate staff appropriately, attract and retain qualified workers, integrate equity and inclusion into all aspects of operations, plan for substantial numbers of older workers retiring, and shift with the evolving culture are here to stay.