Nonprofit Staffing Challenges, Local Solutions

Nonprofit Staffing Challenges, Local Solutions

by Susie Polnaszek, Director, Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE)

The impact of Monterey County nonprofit organizations is essential to the quality of life in our communities: tending to the unsheltered among us, for example, offering support for the recovery journey or engaging the community with the arts.

What makes this impact possible? An investment in people.

Reid Norris with Nonprofit SurveyYet this is a time of great change with nonprofit employees. NAMC curated a list of 50 job openings in its recent newsletter! The firm Nonprofit Compensation Associates reported a “19% voluntary turnover rate for full-time employees and 27% voluntary turnover for part-time employees” among the 728 Northern California nonprofits it surveyed. These rates are “the highest reported by this survey since the inception of its current format in 2010.” Fair Pay for Northern California Nonprofits: The 2022 Compensation & Benefits Survey Report

To take a closer look at this issue in Monterey County, Breanna Wilson interviewed several local nonprofits who shed light on their efforts to invest in staff retention and address turnover as part of her California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) Capstone project. The interviews revealed that staffing and retention were challenges for local nonprofits even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and were not universal during the pandemic period.

Local Challenges

The Monterey County nonprofits interviewed for this capstone project observed the following:

  • Employers often must compete with larger, more-resourced organizations and sectors for qualified candidates. Positions that are particularly challenging to fill locally include:
    • Direct care and credentialed counselors
    • Housing specialist and program manager
    • Fund development roles
    • Finance and executive roles
    • Brand new positions at very small organizations
  • In some instances, there are no internal training systems available for staff. Instead, staff view the organization as a career “stepping stone.”
  • Lack of affordability in our area is a significant hurdle. One larger agency polled its departing employees to reveal that that two-thirds left the area due to the high cost of living.
  • Other staff departed due to personal reasons or geographic moves related to the pandemic.

Local nonprofits shared they are hungry for opportunities to learn and connect with their peers and for access to learning pathways to develop their staff.” – Bre Wilson

Strategies Produced Mixed Results

  • One organization interviewed for the capstone experimented with student loan assistance for its employees that produced mixed results.
  • A nonprofit with five paid staff remarked: “The average time somebody will stay in a $15/hour position is 6 months. At a $20/hour rate, they will stay for a year. The improvement [our organization] made to increase salaries helped but did not make major improvements to staff retention.”

Again, for broader context, the 2022 Fair Pay for Northern California Nonprofits report showed: “eighty-nine percent of organizations report that their current fiscal year budgets include some salary increases, while 11% of organizations report no anticipated salary increases.”

Getting Better Together: Local Solutions

  • One larger Monterey County nonprofit was able to incorporate more staff development, wellbeing and diversity, equity and inclusion that has made some difference with staff retention.
  • One organization reached its goal after a multi-year initiative to bring up pay, taking steps toward wage equity for its employees.
  • Another organization is conducting a compensation study for greater transparency in career mapping within the organization.

Additional Resources offered by the Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE)

Your nonprofit doesn’t have to go it alone.

Nonprofit Staffing Workshop Video