Nonprofits Stretched Thin
(July 27, 2010) As the recession heightens demands for charitable services, many U.S. nonprofit organizations have had to cut jobs or stop hiring, resulting in increasingly heavy burdens on nonprofit workers.
As shown by a study conducted by the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, 31 percent of charities from a national sample of 1,100 organizations reported reductions in their workforces between October 2009 and March 2010. Only 23 percent reported net gains, and 46 percent had no change. Therefore, over two-thirds (77 percent) of U.S. charities surveyed have the same number of people or fewer, while demands increase for their programs and services.
What may be surprising is that larger organizations were considerably more likely to experience job losses than smaller organizations, the report shows. Over 40 percent of the organizations with 50 or more employees suffered job losses from October 2009 to March 2010. This is compared to 31 percent of organizations with 10 to 49 employees, and 19 percent of organizations with 1 to 9 employees.
Those organizations that have not seen reductions of staff are having just as difficult of a time. Among the 46 percent of respondents that reported no net job losses or gains over the previous 6 months, nearly 40 percent indicated that they lack adequate staff to deliver their programs or services.
When a nonprofit staff decreases or stays flat while demands increase, the result is that employees have to shoulder more duties. Nearly half of nonprofits "refined job descriptions"-a measure that is often just a euphemism for increasing employee workloads and assigning the responsibilities of laid-off staff to remaining employees, the study notes.
Nearly 40 percent of all respondents implemented a salary freeze and 36 postponed filling new positions. Plus, 23 percent increased staff hours and another 23 percent have had to cut or reduce benefits.
There is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel however, as a large majority of nonprofits (78 percent) expect to keep employment levels constant (50 percent) or to add workers (28 percent) over the next six months.
For more information visit www.ccss.jhu.edu.
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