By Leslie Beckbridge
We have known for some time now that there is a connection between a community’s nonprofit infrastructure and that community’s economic resilience. A 2012 brief by the National Council on Citizenship went so far as to posit that “higher nonprofit density in 2005 predicted fewer jobs lost in the whole community, better overall economic performance, and more individuals employed in the nonprofit sector.”[i] These findings suggest that the growth and success of the nonprofit sector has implications that go far beyond the specific services that any nonprofit may provide to their community.
Now, in 2015, survey results released today showed that nonprofits are reporting plans to hire that outpace the predictions of for-profit companies.[ii] Not only does this mean that nonprofits are putting more Americans to work, but this growth suggests that communities with strong nonprofit representation will be that much better prepared to withstand whatever economic hardship may come next. Picture these robust and growing nonprofits as New Orleans’ levees being made stronger to prevent another hurricane disaster.
However, it is not all good news in the 2015 Nonprofit Employment Practices Report (click here to download the report). In fact, we are seeing shocking little in the way of strategy and budgeting, especially among small nonprofits. Fully half of nonprofits (52%) report not having a formal recruitment strategy. Just over two thirds (68%) do not have a formal social media recruitment strategy. Nearly three quarters of organizations (74%) have not defined an employment brand strategy. A shocking 85% do not have a formal retention strategy. With numbers like these, it appears as if we are haphazardly making our levees higher or wider or longer without any plan or blueprint for the work. Possibly even worse, the data on budgeting looks very similar: 67% of nonprofits reported having no formal recruitment budget. So we’re attempting to make our levees better with no plan and no money; it suddenly looks as if we’ve put our sector in the hands of FEMA.
We absolutely cannot continue to operate this way. We owe it to ourselves, our workforce, our communities and our economy to use sound practices for growing our sector. This is the only way that we can be sustainable. We must push our donors, funders and grant makers to enable us to recruit and retain better. We must make the case for the importance of nonprofit employment because service delivery relies on our people. These are the people who leaned their backs into the waves of economic downturn and kept their communities alive. The nobility of their work will not feed their families. We must enlist every possible resource to ensure that nonprofit employment does not simply grow, but becomes sought after. #iamoverhead
[ii] Download the 2015 Nonprofit Employment Practices Report here: https://www.nonprofithr.com/2015-employment-practices-survey-download/