As economy rebounds, nonprofits anticipate more staff turnover

GrantPros website, 3/25/12

Findings from the 2012 national Nonprofit Employment Trends Survey indicate that more nonprofit organizations are adding staff and expect to see changes in the voluntary turnover rates of their employees. These findings suggest that the nonprofit sector should to be more focused on retention practices than it is currently. The survey found that 43% of nonprofits surveyed indicated their staff size increased in 2011, compared with 34% of nonprofits surveyed in 2010. Additionally, 43% of nonprofit organizations plan to create new positions in 2012. Most nonprofit organizations (87%) do not anticipate their overall turnover rate to increase this year when compared to last year. However, more organizations expect turnover through retirements and voluntary resignations to increase this year. Last year, only 1% of organizations anticipated turnover to increase due to retirements compared to 13% of organizations surveyed this year. Additionally, 14% of organizations anticipate an increase in voluntary resignations this year compared to 7% last year. While many nonprofits face challenges with staff retention, three-quarters of nonprofits do not have any formal strategy for retaining staff. Said Nonprofit HR Solutions' President and CEO Lisa Brown Morton: "The economy and job market have turned a corner, but ...nonprofits are not investing in retaining their key talent as they probably need to. We really need to get prepared for greater turnover when the sector's top talent starts to jump ship this year as opportunities in the private and nonprofit sectors begin to open up."


Commentary: Why young fundraisers change jobs frequently

Penelope Burk,, 4/2/12

In research conducted by my firm with 1500 professional fundraisers, respondents under the age of 30 stayed a mere sixteen months in their most recent position. By their own admission, these same young Development staff felt they needed 10-12 months of orientation, training and close supervision before feeling confident enough to manage their responsibilities independently. This means that not-for-profit employers are getting only 4-6 months of fully productive time from young fundraisers before they leave - not very attractive by any investment/return measure. But why they are leaving is the more important issue. 41% of fundraisers under the age of 30 whom we surveyed left their last job for a position with more senior responsibilities; and 38% left to work for a not-for-profit with more opportunities for career advancement. It is interesting to note as well that fundraisers under 30 were considerably less likely to leave a job for higher pay elsewhere than were their older counterparts.

> Why Young Fundraisers Change Jobs Frequently: Young workers master the limited requirements of their entry-level positions quickly and soon approach their bosses for more variety in their work and greater responsibility. But, their enthusiasm is sometimes dampened by managers who, ironically, have too much to do themselves and too little time in which to do it. Exacerbating the problem are the criteria some managers use to make decisions about whether and when employees are ready for more senior positions. "That's not how things worked when I started in Development" threads its way through our research with management-level fundraisers.

> The Case for Accelerating Young Fundraisers' Career Moves: First, donors are changing the ways in which they give and fundraising is adapting to keep pace with those changes. In the last five years, participation in typical direct marketing programs by donors has declined 21.5% as more donors choose to support fewer causes with higher level gifts. As a result, young workers need to gain the skills and experience required for relationship fundraising much earlier in their careers. The second reason: only 43% of all Development Professionals surveyed said they plan to stay in fundraising for the balance of their careers. One in two will retire within the next five to ten years. The fundraising industry needs to throw its young professionals into the fray so that they can fall down early, pick themselves back up, and become the next generation of Development leaders as soon as possible.


Commentary: You want loyalty? What are you giving to get it?

Todd Ordal, Colorado Biz magazine, 3/29/12

I'm always amazed at how many leaders expect people to work against their own self-interest. Some examples: Pitch in on an extra project for no possible reward. Show initiative when constantly second-guessed. Care about the company's financial performance when treated like a mule and sharing no gain. Some of these leaders complain that there's no loyalty anymore. There may be some truth to that, but I see it more as an algebraic equation. L (Loyalty) = PR (Perceived Rewards). PRs, however, can mean different things to different people. Several of my kids who are in their 20s are extremely loyal to their employers, but they also get high PRs. One daughter's PR is working with other talented artists, even though her monetary rewards are low. If [she] had to work with capitalists like me, she wouldn't be as loyal. A few years ago, I met with a CEO who didn't understand why he couldn't get people to come in early or work past 5 p.m. He "couldn't find any good people." He tried mandating longer hours (you can imagine how that went over). He tried hiring new people... repeatedly. He tried tightly monitoring employees' work. However, he didn't try positive feedback, allowing them to come up with their own solutions or sharing any of the large amount of money he made. He expected big L with very little PR. Some people have a natural reservoir of L. They have a positive outlook and bust their tail. However, they still need PRs to stay engaged over the long haul. Others tend toward the "show me the money" end of the spectrum and only put out good energy if they see the reward plainly and quickly. If handled correctly, they can be great assets as well. The invisible hand of self-interest can either guide your actions as a leader or slap you across the face. Make your choice.


Commentary: Employee turnover will decrease if arts companies "go green"

Drama Biz magazine, 3/9/12

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings are responsible for 72% of electricity consumption, consume 40% of our raw materials, spew 38% of all CO2 emissions, create 136 million tons of construction waste, and use 15 trillion gallons of water per year in the United States alone. Green buildings, on the other hand, consume 26% less energy while emitting 33% fewer greenhouse gases. Now take a deep breath - because those are significant numbers that should give us pause. But it does not mean we should all go out and start looking for a green architect and a wealthy donor. Not yet, anyway. Rebuilding from the ground up is not the first step. Experts agree that the first and most important thing you can do is improve conservation and efficiency within your current operation and facility. Ian Garrett, Executive Director of the Los Angeles-based Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, has a very clear idea of what a theatre can do today to move toward a green future. "The best thing a theatre can do to go green right now is just to record what they use," he says. According to Garrett this relatively simple and routine effort can go a long way by informing a theatre of what needs to be reduced in the first place. There are a number of business benefits [to "going green."]. [It] inspires a theatre's own employees, as they feel themselves to be working for an institution whose values they (most likely) wholeheartedly support -- so employee turnover will decrease, and theatres will be able to attract more talented designers, directors, and actors. Decreasing local toxins and pollutants will also improve employee health and satisfaction. And, of course, many of the steps taken to go green will save the theatre money in both the short and long run; in some cases, lots of money.

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