When I was in graduate school I studied nonprofit management heavily. I’m in the process of designing a course for a local college in nonprofit organizations. As such, I was interested to read today’s New York Times article which discussed the increase in those studying nonprofit management. From the article:
“There are people like myself who will be retiring in the near future,” said Paulette Maehara, the chief executive of the Association of Fund-Raising Professionals, who started her career in 1977 as a fund-raiser for the March of Dimes. “It is a serious concern because we can’t keep up with the demand. Getting more people in the pipeline is one of our top priorities.”
A 2006 survey of nonprofit executives done by the Meyer Foundation and CompassPoint found that 75 percent said they would be leaving their jobs within five years. Many nonprofit educators hope they will be followed by idealistic college graduates armed with an industry-standardized set of skills.
For some reason I feel like our beloved state of New Jersey bucks this trend. I’ve been working for nonprofits for the last four years and there is almost no turnover in the sector. First, salaries for nonprofit workers in New Jersey are not substantial enough to retain skilled talent. Most nonprofits in this state only give cost of living salary adjustments that equate to a 3% or 4% bump. Certainly not enough to retain skilled workers over the long-term. These young, idealistic college graduates will learn about the vicious nonprofit salary abuse sooner or later.
Second, you never see people actually leave the nonprofit sector in New Jersey. The good part about this is that the sector, as a whole, keeps experienced workers involved throughout the state. This offsets the need to bring in new people, which is one of the bad parts about this issue. The other bad part is that some nonprofits run the risk of rendering their thoughts or stances on issues affecting citizens obsolete. Further, some of the nonprofits can render their operations obsolete by not churning talent and bringing in younger workers. For example, I refused to finance a school last spring because their leader didn’t “do” e-mail. He was well into his seventies and came to a meeting with a piece of paper and a pencil so he could draw out the school’s budget. I appreciate the gusto of the old man, but in today’s world you need to know how to use Excel or Calc and you absolutely need to have an e-mail address.
The New York Times article is a good one and I recommend that any college students out there take a read and consider whether or not a nonprofit management degree might be for you.