April 7, 2015; Fast Company

How many of us currently working in the nonprofit sector have the skills that will be needed in the near future? The number of jobs in the U.S. nonprofit sector grew during the 2001-2010 period. During the same period, the number of jobs in the for-profit sector declined. A recent Fast Company article examined those statistics and asked the question, “What will it take to get a nonprofit job in 2020?”

Top of the list is “data-savvy skills.” Several trends play into the increase for data-friendly skillsets. Nonprofits can now collect data faster, cheaper, and more efficiently, and measuring social impact is becoming key to telling the nonprofit’s story.

Thomas Tighe, president of Direct Relief, an international relief agency, says, “If anyone can do infographics and 15-second videos after having analyzed data and also translate the findings into low-cost activities that demonstrate results—you are desperately needed today and will be worshipped!”

The ability to apply design thinking to solving social issues is next on the list. The example shared describes influencing behavior through the design or layout of public physical spaces.

Next, nonprofit employees will need the people skills to create cross-sector partnerships with “potential supporters in an increasingly sophisticated, constantly evolving market, similar to any private commercial enterprise,” according to Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen, a nonprofit investing in companies that focus on world poverty.

The nonprofit workforce is predicted to become even more diverse, and not only from a race or gender perspective. The ability to work and interact globally will bring a wide range of diverse backgrounds together. Also, Millennials will comprise almost half of the U.S. workforce in 2020. This generation of workers values the ability to blend social values into their daily work life to a much greater degree than those generations that came before. The emerging talent in the nonprofit work force wants a fast-paced environment, similar to that of a startup.

Fast Company gathered this info by interviewing several leaders of nonprofits on its list of the most innovative companies in the nonprofit sector. The data source has to be considered to affect the language and tone of the findings, but it appears what is being suggested is that nonprofits will need employees that have skills of analysis, presentation, and collaboration. They will need to be nimble and adaptive, able to move from task to task as needed and to work in diverse settings, etc. Stand back, folks…not much new here, except perhaps the importance of load of technology skills and the sometimes apparently insurmountable loan debt they may be carrying.

What suggestions do you have for attracting personnel into the nonprofit sector who have either specialized technology skills or high student debt?—Jeanne Allen