While mission and impact are the heart and soul of a nonprofit, there are many integral parts behind the scenes that make the magic happen. Beyond defining your mission and establishing metrics to measure your impact, it is essential to nurture your people. Yes, your people are your volunteers, donors and supporters, but your people are first and foremost your staff.
The hardworking nonprofiteer that is daily putting your mission into action – teaching parents financial literacy, educating teens on healthy lifestyle choices, or providing meals to hungry children. And yet, many organization and nonprofit executives neglect or lack any formal strategic talent development or career progression plan for their staff – and to their loss:
- Development attracts and retains – employees will stay longer, saving on expenses related to turnover and loss of productivity.
- Development increases performance – employees will contribute more and in different ways.
- Development boosts morale and engagement – a key performance indicator for organizational success.
An article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review says, “The nonprofit sector is known for underinvesting in talent. From low compensation to lack of training, the pursuit of minimal overhead has resulted in anemic spending on human capital.” The article goes on to share that nonprofits spend only $29 per person/per year on leadership development compared to $120 per person in the private sector.
Another study shows only 30% of leadership positions in the nonprofit sector were filled by an internal candidate (while the rate in the private sector is 60%) and most candidates who filled open positions came from other nonprofits, creating a pattern of leadership musical chairs. This reiterates the impact of low compensation and lack of development on the leadership pipeline within an organization, and sector turnover in general.
So, what are some ways your organization can begin to encourage strategic professional and leadership development for staff? Here are some internal ideas for building staff development by beefing up your onboarding and orientation process, creating peer-based group coaching opportunities, or mentoring programs.
Even if you don’t have the internal resources to build these types of opportunities for staff, there are great resources in our own community that can help!
YNPN RVA (Young Nonprofit Professional Network RVA) seeks to fulfill the professional development and leadership void experienced by young and early career nonprofit professional by providing them with:
- a better understanding of the nonprofit sector in which they work
- connections to peers and seasoned professionals
- career planning and advancement insights
- resources and tools to develop as a professional
YNPN RVA, powered by ConnectVA, is the local chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network that works to promote an efficient, viable, and inclusive nonprofit sector that supports the growth, learning, and development of young and early-career professionals. Click here for more information on individual or organizational membership.