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Five Failures Causing Nonprofit Staff to Flee

Fleeing Nonprofit Failures“Four out of five employees of charitable organizations are eager to leave their jobs and are actively seeking new positions.”

The Chronicle of Philanthropy, which conducted the survey revealing this troubling statistic, attributes this job dissatisfaction to strains caused by the economic downturn.

While those pressures are real and surely play a role, our experience working with hundreds of nonprofits since founding Community Wealth Partners is that much of what can be debilitating about working for a nonprofit comes from self-inflicted organizational wounds, summarized by these Five Failures:

  1. Failure to diversify revenues.
  2. Failure to be accountable to specific goals that can be measured by stakeholders.
  3. Failure to pay talent what it is worth.
  4. Failure to invest in management training and staff development.
  5. Failure to look beyond short term gains in favor of investments that may not pay off until the long-term.

We rely heavily on charitable organizations to fill the gaps left by government cutbacks in social services, education, health care, community development and anti-poverty work.

We rely heavily on charitable organizations to fill the gaps left by government cutbacks in social services, education, health care, community development and anti-poverty work.  We must have strong resilient organizations, with committed and highly skilled staff, to meet such pressing needs and expectations of the communities we serve. When 4 out of 5 employees of these critical organizations want to leave their jobs, at a time when they are needed the most, we have a national epidemic of crisis proportions.

Nonprofit leaders and those who support them have an alternative to being so totally victimized by economic downturns. But it means challenging themselves to totally re-invent the way they go about their work. Rather than pack it in they need to challenge themselves to completely re-think how they go about their work, their willingness to invest in capacity, the skills needed to marshal support for such investments that may not pay off until the long-term.

Solving social problems will always be hard. But it need not seem so futile that so many talented staff of charitable organizations want to give up.

Share Our Strength and Community Wealth Partners worked together to ensure that Share Our Strength took the steps that resulted in its greatest growth ever during and after the recent recession. We’d been guilty at times of each of the five F’s above, but we changed and it’s not too late or others to do the same.

 

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About Billy Shore

Billy Shore is the founder and executive director of Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit that is ending childhood hunger in America. Shore is also the chairman of Community Wealth Partners, a Share Our Strength organization that helps change agents solve social problems at the magnitude they exist.

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