How are nonprofits faring currently?
Collectively, we are still struggling with a labor crisis and slow job recovery. Washington Nonprofits recently received nonprofit jobs and wages data for the first half of 2021 and completed a Mid-year Update to our Nonprofit Economic Impact Report. Our analysis shows that nonprofits jobs are recovering, but very slowly. At the pace of recovery shown for January through June 2021, it will take until early 2024 for nonprofit employment to reach pre-pandemic levels.
We also know that the labor shortage is driving a high vacancy rate for our sector—the jobs may be available but hiring and retaining qualified staff is difficult. We do have a new tool to consult as we strategize about how to improve compensation levels. 501 Commons’ Putting People First resources include the newly released 2021 King County Nonprofit Wage & Benefits report and the searchable 501 Compensation Tracker. This compensation database creates an opportunity for competitive and equitable compensation across the sector by providing salary ranges for specific job titles and the ability to filter results by organization budget, number of employees, or subsector.
There has been some good news coverage recently about a few nonprofits that are proactively raising wages, like Food Lifeline and Choose 180. We have heard of other nonprofits, large and small, making across the board wage increases or focusing on raising wages for lower-paid frontline workers.
Together, these new resources and stories help us understand the situation and can be useful in advocating for change. We know that even before the pandemic, nonprofit compensation was often not competitive, and the pandemic has led to increased demands and additional stress and burnout. Although it may feel difficult to muster the energy, we need to continue to work together to improve the situation—advocating for changes to government contracting levels (see The Nonprofit Experience with Government Contracting), educating private funders about the need for annual grant increases and investment in administrative capacity, and continuing to increase compensation even when doing so may be a leap of faith.