More than half of nonprofit employers reported cutting jobs between the summers of 2008 and 2009 — but only 9 percent said they expect to trim more workers next year, according to a new Chronicle survey of nonprofit staffing and hiring trends.
Further sign that the worst of the recession may be over: Nineteen percent of nonprofit organizations surveyed said they expect to hire in 2010.
The organizations reported that their total number of employees dropped by 4.2 percent between August 2008 and the same month in 2009, a rate lower than the 5-percent drop in employment seen among all private-sector employers.
The online survey of nonprofit organizations and their staffing practices in the recession includes more than 1,000 organizations from across the nation. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they were "stand-alone" nonprofit groups, rather than affiliates of national organizations. One-quarter of the organizations surveyed were human-services groups — the largest single category of charity in the poll.
The Chronicle survey results were more optimistic than those found in a study released this month by the management consultancy Grant Thornton International.
Its survey of 53 nonprofit chief financial officers and comptrollers found that 11 percent of respondents expect their organizations to increase their hiring in the next six months, while 25 percent of respondents expected to cut jobs.
Among the organizations in The Chronicle's survey that reported plans to increase their staffs in 2010, the largest share — 46 percent — said they intend to hire fund raisers. Only 16 percent of groups that plan to recruit said they expect to hire at the executive level.
Organizations were asked in detail about their staffing practices. Among the key findings:
- Health charities saw the deepest cuts in employment between August 2008 and August 2009, losing 10 percent of their jobs; arts and culture groups, along with religious organizations, lost 2 percent or less.
- Smaller organizations seemed to be more immune to cutting workers: Most groups with 10 or fewer employees said they had not trimmed jobs, but the majority of organizations with more than 100 employees reported cutting positions.
- Reducing office operating and supply expenses was the most common way of belt-tightening, with 60 percent of respondents reporting use of that strategy. Also popular: increasing fund-raising efforts (reported by 54 percent of groups), reducing travel expenses (53 percent), and postponing purchases (52 percent).
- Only 7.3 percent of groups said they had reduced their level of service to clients during the time period surveyed.
- The most commonly cited staffing challenge for organizations in 2010 was "avoiding staff burnout," reported by 68 percent of respondents, with nearly as many groups also saying they saw maintaining staff morale as a challenge for the coming year.
- By contrast, only 4 percent of groups said they expect to reduce employee workloads in 2010.
A complete report on the survey's results will soon be available. Send an e-mail message to email@example.com to purchase the report.
The Chronicle's survey of nonprofit staffing was conducted by Mr. Thompson.