Nearly 40 percent of nonprofit organizations lack adequate staff to deliver their programs and services, a new report from the Johns Hopkins University Listening Post Project finds.
According to the report, Recession Pressures on Nonprofit Jobs (17 pages, PDF), almost a third of the 526 organizations surveyed by the project reported making workforce reductions over the preceding six months (October 2009 to March 2010), while only 23 percent reported employment gains over the same period and 46 percent reported no change in head count despite facing greater demand for their services.
In addition to workforce reductions, the survey found that nonprofits have taken other actions that impact staff and their ability to deliver critical programs and services; they include "refining" job descriptions (49 percent), often a euphemism for assigning the responsibilities of laid-off staff to remaining employees; salary freezes (39 percent); waiting to fill new positions (36 percent); increasing staff hours (23 percent); cutting or reducing benefits (23 percent); increasing non-program work for program staff (12 percent); and wage reductions (12 percent).
The survey also found that employment changes varied significantly by field. For instance, organizations in elderly services and community and economic development reported overall employment growth, while theater groups reported job reductions of 6 percent, orchestras 3 percent, museums 1 percent, and children and family service organizations 0.7 percent. Arts and culture organizations have been hit particularly hard by the recession, with 56 percent of nonprofit theaters and 53 percent of museums reporting inadequate staff to maintain their existing activities.
In response to a question about the impact of the recently enacted Federal HIRE Act, which provides exemptions from the employers' portion of payroll taxes (amounting to 6.2 percent of salaries), 15 percent of the respondents agreed that the act would encourage their organization to hire new workers in 2010, while 42 percent doubted that it would encourage their organizations to do so.
"The pressures on nonprofits have accelerated and are clearly taking their toll," said Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies director Lester Salamon, author of the survey. "Organizations have shown enormous resilience and commitment to their critical missions, but this has come at a price."