Nonprofit Workers Report Dissatisfaction

October 28, 2011 ( – New reports show a disconnect between what nonprofits provide to their workers and what employee’s say is essential to their job satisfaction.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that 70% of workers in two surveys said their jobs were either disappointing or only somewhat fulfilling, which could explain why 25% of workers said they were considering looking for a job outside the nonprofit world.  

The surveys gathered data from about 3,500 nonprofit workers in the New York and Washington metropolitan areas and were conducted by the staffing firm Professionals for NonProfits. Four out of 10 workers in both cities said the factors they ranked as most essential are not on display at their nonprofits – “respect, trust, and support by management” as well as a sense that their organization has “a compelling mission.”  

According to the Chronicle’s report, about half of all workers said they felt recognition and reward for their hard work and outstanding performance were essential, yet 60% of workers in Washington and 65% in New York said hard work was not valued at their organization.  

About half of workers in both surveys said a salary reduction would be a reason to leave and a more important motivation for departure than a change in work expectations or job description.  

The news report said just under half of workers indicated they felt it was essential that office politics not get in the way of their work, yet three out of four employees said internal politics hampered their abilities to function in their jobs.   

In other cases, the survey suggested that no matter how much employees may appreciate some of the perks of nonprofit life, they do not rate them as essential as issues like pay and trust. For example, only 12% of workers cited child care or parental leave as essential, while 17% of workers said they valued flexible work schedules. Thirty percent of employers offer leaves and 49% offer flexible schedules.  

The majority of employees were optimistic about the future: Nearly 60% think the next five years will be challenging but “will get much better” for the nonprofit world, but a similar share believe that “bold leadership for dramatic change is needed.”  

The “Good Nonprofit Job Reports” for New York and Washington are available free on the Professionals for Nonprofits Web site.