It’s a question I hear frequently. It’s raised by nonprofit board members, volunteers, chief executive officers, and program staff alike. It’s one for which there isn’t a simple answer. But it’s a critical question for any nonprofit organization – How can we do a better job of retaining staff members?
In its 2010 Retention and Vacancy Report, Opportunity Knocks, a national online job site and HR and career development resource, reported that the average staff turnover rate for the 300 nonprofits who participated in its survey was 16%. (These organizations together employed nearly 30,000 individuals.) The highest turnover rate – 35% -- was among arts, culture and humanities organizations. For comparison’s sake, the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in early 2010 that the separation rate for the non-farm private sector was 3.5%. In addition, Opportunity Knocks noted that 60% of the participating nonprofits – across all sectors – identified staff turnover as a problem.
Staff retention remains a concern for nonprofits. There are many factors that positively impact staff retention. Among them are:
- Clearly defined roles and expectations
- A well-planned and executed orientation and onboarding program
- Regular feedback and assessment of performance
- Ongoing monitoring of staff satisfaction and engagement
- Professional development opportunities
- Flexibility in work schedule.
Even with these important programs and practices in place, a primary factor in staff retention continues to be compensation. According to the Opportunity Knocks 2010 Retention and Vacancy Report, as stated in the 2014 Central Indiana Nonprofit Salary Report, assembled and published by Charitable Advisors, “a competitive job offer was most often cited as the top reason for an employee voluntarily leaving their current position.”
In the Charitable Advisors’ report, Julie Bingham, an advisor with FirstPerson, one of the co-sponsors of the report, makes a salient point about fair, market-competitive compensation. She writes, “While individuals, managers, and leadership may disagree about which employment programs are most valuable or generate the greatest ROI, most agree that if an employee does not believe they are fairly compensated, then the impact of all other programs and experiences at the work place are diminished.” Ms. Bingham goes on to encourage nonprofits to do benchmark analyses that compare their salaries and benefits to the market in their region.
To that end, Indianapolis’ Charitable Advisors, along with its four co-sponsors (FirstPerson, The National Bank of Indianapolis, VonLehman CPA, and Delivra), has done a great service to the central Indiana nonprofit community in compiling and publishing the third bi-annual edition of the Central Indiana Nonprofit Salary Report since 2010. The report presents comparative data on twenty nonprofit positions from executive director/chief executive officer to program director, vice president/director of development to special events coordinator, and chief financial officer to secretary/administrative support. 321 nonprofits from eight counties took part in the survey. All nonprofit sectors -- except higher education, hospitals, public schools, and churches – are represented in the survey.
The 2014 Central Indiana Nonprofit Salary Report is a valuable resource. Check it out and gain helpful information on what it will take for your organization to retain staff members through competitive compensation and benefits.