Addressing the Ongoing Labor Shortage: 7 Tips for Your Nonprofit Clients

A survey conducted by the National Council of Nonprofits (NCN) at the end of 2021 showed that the nation’s ongoing labor shortage has hit nonprofits harder than any other business sector. For your nonprofit clients, a worker shortage can mean not being able to provide people with access to the services they need, when they need them.

“[Organizations] are down more than 500,000 nonprofit employees from the beginning of the pandemic. That’s half a million [individuals] who were helping people in their community, and we need those people back,” said Rick Cohen, CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits.

FACT: Nonprofit organizations continue to struggle to fill job vacancies, with 80% of respondents listing salary competition as a factor preventing them from filling openings. 

So why is there a shortage of workers in the nonprofit sector?

The primary reason centers on pay. According to the New York Times, while many for-profit businesses have been able to overcome their staffing challenges (to some degree) by offering higher wages to attract and retain workers, the solution for nonprofits isn’t that simple. In the wake of COVID-19 and other economic challenges, organizations are hard-pressed to find the resources they need to compete with their for-profit counterparts and, as a result, are losing staff. According to the NCN, this has many organizations feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place because, while they want to raise wages for their workers, the funding just isn’t there.

The NCN survey also shows that due to the expanding demand for the services that nonprofits provide, their employees are feeling overwhelmed and experiencing burnout. In addition, many nonprofit workers said they don’t see the potential for long-term career opportunities within these types of organizations. Both factors also contribute to the staffing shortage.

Are your nonprofit clients struggling with a lack of staff? Share the following tips that can help them better address the ongoing labor shortage.

  1. Create incentives. While it may not be possible to increase wages, organizations can offer employees other benefits, such as flexible hours, remote-work options, a four-day workweek, and extra vacation, sick and personal days.
  2. Be willing to train. Often, a candidate who doesn’t have the years of nonprofit experience an organization is looking for can learn, with the proper training. In many cases, the right person for the job just needs the tools and a chance to be successful.
  3. Keep an open mind. The pandemic has caused some people to reevaluate their lives and seek work in other industries that can provide them with a greater sense of purpose. According to Forbes, this has prompted more people to look for opportunities within nonprofits. Today, organizations need to be more flexible and open-minded, embracing diverse work experiences from other sectors.
  4. Outsource specific areas of work. If the current budget won’t allow hiring full-time employees, contract workers can be a viable solution for getting the job done — without the expense of a long-term commitment. Areas of work that are commonly outsourced include administrative and bookkeeping tasks, fundraising, and marketing, among others.
  5. Engage community partners. Community colleges and universities often offer partnership opportunities with local nonprofits to provide students with valuable work experience through internships or work-study programs, as well as co-op situations.
  6. Leverage untapped potential. More organizations are looking to work-release centers and halfway houses as a potential pool in which to find justice-served individuals who are looking to rebuild their lives. According to Forbes, many are grateful for an opportunity to prove themselves and may have the right skill sets the organization needs.
  7. Build leaders from within. A strong volunteer and intern program that offers the potential for individuals to transition into a paid position is a great way to retain qualified people. Based on performance, an organization can promote from within, ensuring future committee leaders and board members.


How long the growing labor shortage will continue is unclear. However, it is clear that over the next year, it will become increasingly vital for your nonprofit clients to be proactive in navigating employment-related challenges.

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