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December 4, 2021
Nonprofits Expect Staff Turnover to Increase 42% in 2021
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October 15, 2021 — In what may be a delayed impact of the coronavirus pandemic, nonprofits organizations anticipate staff turnover will increase by 42% this year, according to a recently completed national survey, while another survey confirmed that retaining good employees is a top challenge.

Only 28% of the 500 nonprofits participating in the 2021 Nonprofit Talent Retention Practices Survey conducted by NonprofitHR, a Washington, D.C.-based recruitment agency, expect turnover to remain unchanged from last year. Sixteen percent said they expect turnover to decrease, while 14% said they were unable to predict turnover this year.

While 51% of respondents said the pandemic impacted their organization’ retention strategy and tactics. from last year’s level, only 13% of respondents said they have a formal retention strategy. Eighty percent said they do not have such a plan.

Reasons given for voluntary turnover, provided by survey respondents, included:

  • 49%: Better opportunity elsewhere
  • 44%: Lack of opportunity for upward mobility/career growth
  • 35%: Dissatisfaction/disengagement with current organization/culture
  • 32%: Compensation/benefits
  • 20%: Family situation
  • 19%: Career change
  • 15%: Pursuit of higher education
  • 14%: Retirement

Turnover impacts the organizations, with 23% of respondents reporting that it decreased morale, though 5% said it improved morale. Ten percent said it decreased institutional knowledge, while 10% said it decreased services and supports they could provide.

To keep staff, 76% of respondents use compensation and 80% employ benefits as retention strategies.

The findings were consistent with results of another recently released study, the 2021 Nonprofit Workforce Trends report from UST, an unemployment trust serving nonprofits nationally, which, based on input from 414 nonprofit leaders, retaining good employees was a top challenge for 43% of respondents.

Other key challenges were compensation and benefits (for 61% of respondents) and talent acquisition (51%).

The issues may be especially problematic, as 36% of respondents reported that demand for their services increased and another 27% said demand for services significantly increased as a result of the pandemic.

Despite the challenges, 10% of organizations actually grew post-pandemic, which UST said “may reflect general growth in their sub-sector and their adherence to effective nonprofit resilience strategies.”

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