Nonprofit Workforce Shortage Continues

Posted By: Mary Alice Scott Advocacy + Government,

Shared with permission from our partners at the National Council of Nonprofits.

In April 2023, the networks of the National Council of Nonprofits conducted a nationwide survey to secure the latest, comprehensive information about the nonprofit workforce.

When nonprofits cannot hire enough employees to provide vital services, the public suffers. Data from this survey and others show that along with increased demands for services, there are longer waiting lists, reduced services, and sometimes elimination of services. When any of those happen, the ripple effects cannot be ignored: communities lose access to food, shelter, mental health care, and other vital services on which people depend.

The report analyzes the more than 1,600 responses collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It also references data from reports by state associations of nonprofits and others to present the most current information on the challenges nonprofits face. Finally, the report presents practical solutions, many shared with us by the nonprofit respondents themselves, and discusses recommended public policy solutions.

Read the Report

Why It Matters

When organizations dedicated to serving the public good can’t secure the workforce to provide vital services, their communities suffer. While staffing shortages in delivery services result in longer times to receive a package, staffing shortages in direct-care services mean that families and individuals cannot access life-saving support. When a nonprofit closes, the ripple effects cannot be ignored: communities lose access to food, shelter, mental health care, and other vital services.

Nonprofits are doing their part to raise awareness of the challenge to whole communities, to collect and analyze data to identify the problem and solutions, and to take action to protect our communities.

Key Findings

  • infographic showing key findingsNearly three out of four nonprofits (74.6%) completing the survey reported job vacancies.
  • More than half of nonprofits (51.7%) reported they have more vacancies now compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic, and nearly three out of ten (28.1%) have longer waiting lists for services.
  • The nonprofit jobs most commonly unfilled are those that interact with the public the most. Almost three out of four respondents (74.0%) reported vacancies in their program and service delivery positions, and two out of five (41.1%) reported vacant entry-level positions.
  • Almost three out of four respondents (72.2%) said salary competition affects their ability to recruit and retain employees, followed by budget constraints/insufficient funds (66.3%). Additional causes for nonprofit workforce shortages reported by nonprofits were stress and burnout (50.2%) and challenges caused by government grants and contracts (20.6%).
  • Seven out of ten nonprofits (70.5%) anticipate charitable giving to decrease or remain flat in 2023, while 68.7% of nonprofits anticipate the number of donors to decrease or remain unchanged.

"Collectively, the data confirm that nonprofits are still enduring a shortage of employees, and as a natural consequence, the public continues to suffer because fewer employees mean reduced capacity, longer waiting lists for services, reduced amounts and types of services provided, and sometimes a complete end of needed services."

Barriers Creating Nonprofit Workforce Shortages

Nonprofits responding to the 2023 survey identified the following barriers to recruiting and retaining nonprofit staff:

  • Salary competition was the most frequently cited challenge, having been identified by nearly three out of four respondents (72.2%).
  • Two-thirds of those completing the survey (66.3%) named budget constraints/insufficient funds as a factor, which, of course, impacts salary competition.
  • More than half (50.2%) pointed to stress and burnout.
  • One out of five respondents (20.6%) identified challenges caused by government grants and contracts as a major cause of nonprofit workforce shortages.
  • The lack of available, affordable child care continues to be a major problem impacting recruitment and retention, according to 14.6% of respondents.

Practical and Public Policy Solutions

Recognizing that the people leading, working in, and volunteering for charitable nonprofits are, by nature, problem solvers, the 2023 survey invited participants to share solutions they had utilized or identified to mitigate the nonprofit workforce shortages crisis. The report explores examples they provided of practical solutions, and also points to public policy solutions of general applicability, especially essential reforms to government grants and contracting systems.

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