Post-Recession, Nonprofit Sector's Confidence Continues to Recover, Reports's Annual Nonprofit Survey

Despite Weak Economy, Nonprofits Continue to Hire

Jul 30, 2012, 05:00 ET from Idealist

NEW YORK, July 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- As the darkest days of the economic recession that began in 2008 recede ever further into the past, nonprofit organizations continue to rebuild confidence and capacity, and retain their significant share of the U.S. labor force—currently 13.5 million workers. For the past two years, leading nonprofit hub has surveyed a broad swath of U.S.-based nonprofits to gauge the sector's health and most pressing concerns. In its survey of over 1,000 organizations this summer, Idealist found that:

  • 36% received increased funding this year, up from 19% a year ago
  • 48% are hiring this year, a 6% hike from 2011
  • 54% say they will offer salary increases in 2012, up from 47% last year

Late 2008 through most of 2009 remains the most perilous time period in memory to the majority of nonprofits, and overall confidence has grown slowly but steadily since then. 46% of organizations recently reported feeling more optimistic about the year ahead than the year past; only 11% feel less optimistic. Indeed, Idealist currently reports over 8,000 nonprofit job openings posted on its site.

To complement the organizational perspective, Idealist also surveyed 3,000 active job seekers. Interesting overlaps between the surveys include the finding that 30% of job seeker respondents are over age 50—a higher percentage than expected. With their extensive work and life experience, 40% of seekers are eyeing executive positions; however, only about 10% of organizations are planning to hire at the executive level this year. Other such discrepancies exist: 62% of job seekers are interested in landing a communications position, but only 18% of organizations are looking to hire such staff.

But there's positive news regarding hiring, too:

  • 81% of seekers would like to find a job in programs or direct services, and 68% of organizations are hiring in those areas
  • 32% of seekers are interested in fundraising, and 36% of organizations need fundraisers
  • 48% of all nonprofits plan to make new hires in 2012, and 46% plan to maintain current staff size
  • Education, human services, and advocacy/community building are the top three types of organizations now hiring; happily, education jobs are also highly sought after by seekers

Of course, organizations and job seekers always face challenges:

  • The top three difficulties organizations reported were finding and retaining the right people, investing in employees' professional development, and compensating competitively
  • 84% of staff members handling HR duties also fill other roles—mostly in program management and support—and reported that juggling the diverse responsibilities is arduous
  • 86% of job seekers said they usually don't receive any acknowledgement from potential employers after applying; this was the top ranked frustration of job hunting

"Though the unemployment numbers are still making headlines, the nonprofit sector as a whole has persevered throughout this economic downturn," said Ami Dar, Idealist's founder and executive director. "Many organizations, including us at Idealist, faced funding cuts and staff reductions, but optimism is on the rise again—and with it, we are seeing some increases in financial stability and overall capacity. This is a very encouraging sign, and we hope to see these trends continue."

The full "Voices from the Sector" survey reports, from both organizations and job seekers, are available for free download at


Idealist is the largest nonprofit job board on the web, with more than 70,000 jobs posted over the last year and 100,000 unique visitors each day. Founded in 1995 to help people around the world take action on the issues that concern them, Idealist allows organizations to post jobs, events, internships, and volunteer opportunities, and individuals to search for jobs and sign up for free daily email alerts that match their interests and location with new opportunities.

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SOURCE Idealist