In April 2023, the National Council of Nonprofits conducted a nationwide survey to determine the health of the nonprofit workforce. Their results highlight a sector that is struggling to recruit and retain the talent needed to meet impact goals and create lasting social change. As social-good leaders, many of you experience these same challenges every day. Thankfully, there are strategies and tactics that can help you get the most out of your resources as you work to drive impact.
The first step of overcoming any challenge is understanding the problem. According to the National Council of Nonprofits survey, participating nonprofits report the following:
74.6% have job vacancies
51.7% have more job vacancies now than before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic
28.1% have longer waiting lists for services than before COVID-19
72.2% report challenges hiring and retaining staff caused by salary competition
50.2% report burnout among their current staff
Social-good organizations strive every day to address barriers and inequities that prevent individuals and families from thriving. Fewer employees can mean reduced capacity, longer waiting lists for services, fewer services available, and in the worst-case scenario, a complete loss of programs. Because communities are interconnected, a lack of services in one at-risk population or geographic area can lead to ripple effects throughout the entire community.
Having the human resources to provide these essential services can be challenging, but it is possible as you implement strategies that help you retain the team you have, grow their capacity, and empower them with tools that help them excel.
Strategy 1: Prioritize Your Existing Team
Recruiting and training is a drain on the productivity of any organization, and more so in a nonprofit sector that is struggling to compete with for-profit industries for quality talent. One strategy to address this reality is to focus on retaining the team you have. Invest in them by providing necessary training and professional development resources. Help your employees maintain their physical and emotional health by balancing workloads between team members, providing clear expectations and adequate support, and respecting your staff’s work-life balance. Communicate external benefits of working in the social-good sector, such as potential eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). When possible, provide flexible working environments such as a work-from-home option.
There will always be some staff transition in any organization. But prioritizing retention can help you reduce the service interruptions that come from high rates of turnover.
Strategy 2: Focus on Capacity Building
Operational capacity means the amount of work your organization can complete with a given set of resources. In the social-good sector, operational capacity translates to the amount of services your nonprofit can provide with your current team, financial resources, and technological tools. Capacity building is the act of increasing operational capacity through increased access to resources and better use of the resources you have.
Focusing on capacity building means you will have more available capacity to serve your beneficiaries in the short term, but it also improves the chances of long-term success for your organization. Change takes time, and the future is unpredictable. Capacity building means you will have the capabilities required to address needs now and in the coming years.
One essential piece to capacity building is developing a culture of continuous improvement. Meaning an environment where innovation and positive change are priorities, and everyone is empowered to contribute to the process. Creating such an environment is not as complex as it may seem, but it requires intentional effort, learning to reflect, and becoming data-driven.
Strategy 3: Empower Your Team with the Right Technology
Many individuals who are drawn to the social-good sector are motivated by a desire to promote change and positively affect the lives of real people. They would much rather spend as much time as possible time building relationships rather than doing administrative tasks. Empowering them with tools that streamline tasks and workflows, simplify reporting, and improve both internal and external communication will enhance both their effectiveness in their role and their job satisfaction.
Today’s nonprofit leaders and teams need case management and outcomes reporting software designed to help you measure the effectiveness, efficiency, and impact of your programs and organization as a whole. What was once only possible for those who had big budgets for data scientists and third-party evaluators is now an integrated piece of case management software, giving you insights into your organization’s impact. This quick access to actionable data will enable your staff to change more lives than ever before.
The nonprofit workforce shortage is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Leaders who prioritize their existing team, focus on staff capacity building, and empower their team with the right technology will help new staff to get up to speed more quickly, allow existing staff to manage any turnover more smoothly, and provide time-saving resources to reduce burnout.
SureImpact is a purpose-built impact management platform that is designed for social-good providers by social-good providers. SureImpact provides the data collection and impact reporting infrastructure that provides social-good organizations with real-time insights into organizational impact. SureImpact’s simple and collaborative case management and outcome tracking tools offer person-centered case management, outcomes and impact management, dashboards, and analytics, enabling staff to efficiently track and measure activities and outcomes for their clients, while providing leadership with powerful insights into program and organization performance and social impact.
Join us for our 4-part webinar series “Leveling Up Your Team Impact” to learn how to create internal champions for measuring and communicating your organization’s social impact. Each session will be dedicated to a specific team – all with their unique needs and priorities in mind. You’ll learn how to communicate how each department (and individual) will benefit and grow by making impact measurement a priority.