July 14, 2010; Source: Ascribe Newswire | Layoffs, being asked to do more with less, salary freezes, and vacant jobs left unfilled—these are some of the conditions plaguing nonprofits and their employees around the country, according to a survey released this week form the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies. Nearly 40 percent respondents said they don’t have enough staff to deliver their programs and services and almost one-third reported net reductions in their workforce for the six month period before the survey was conducted (October 2009-March 2010).
In one of the few bright spots among the findings of the 526 groups surveyed, some 23 percent of organizations reported increased staff while some 46 percent said their numbers had stayed the same. “The pressures on nonprofits have accelerated and are clearly taking their toll,” noted Lester Salamon, report author and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, which conducted this survey as part of its Listening Post Project. “Organizations have shown enormous resilience and commitment to their critical missions, but this has come at a price.”
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Nonprofits are taking different steps to deal with the double whammy of less revenue and increased demands for services. Some are instituting what they describe as “refined job descriptions,” a fancy way of asking a fewer number of employees to shoulder the work that used to be done by more staff. Others are freezing salaries, letting vacant positions go unfilled, cutting or reducing benefits, saddling program staff with non-program work, or cutting pay.
Looking ahead, the survey raises serious questions about how much more pain some of these organizations can absorb. “Nonprofits have been stretched to the breaking point,” noted Peter Goldberg, chair of the Listening Post Project Steering Committee and president and CEO of the Alliance for Children and Families. The full report “Recession Pressures on Nonprofit Jobs” is available online.—Bruce Trachtenberg