We included a headline from the general media and a reference last week to the new Nonprofit Employment Report from the IU Center on Philanthropy that prompted a number of inquiries about how nonprofits have added jobs in Indiana through the recession while businesses have cut jobs. Questions along the lines of "Is this true?", "How can this be true?", "We have been cutting for years, who is adding?", etc.
The answer isn't hidden but the headline could be considered misleading for most of us who see hospitals and universities in a separate classification from "regular nonprofits". A clearer headline would have been "Growth of Employment at Hospitals and Universities Surpasses Business Hiring" or something like that.
It is an interesting report and worth a few minutes of your time to explore. Below are a few excerpts that clarify that headline:
· The nonprofit sector accounts for nearly 1 out of every 11 paid workers in 2009, up from 1 in 12 in 2005.
· Over half (54 percent) of all nonprofit employees worked in healthcare, another 13 percent worked in education services, 11 percent in membership associations, 11 percent in social assistance, and 3 percent in arts, entertainment and recreation.
· Nonprofit employment growth was concentrated in the health and education industries (up 9.6 and 4.8 percent respectively), while nonprofit employment decreased for arts, entertainment and recreation, social assistance, and membership associations
· The overall increase in nonprofit payroll was driven mainly by education and health care; nonprofit payroll decreased in social assistance and arts, entertainment and recreation.
· Nonprofit average annual wages grew the most in education (6.7 percent), membership organizations (5.1 percent) and health (3.2 percent), held steady in social assistance, and actually declined in arts, entertainment and recreation (-3.1 percent).
From the first, vague cell phone photo on the 10pm news to the full color videos the following day, we all watched in horror at the unfortunate loss of life at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. A few days later a dear friend who has been sick for over a year, still in her 30s with a young child, goes to be with the Lord. As I watch the news memorialize each of the individuals lost in the stage accident and see the preparations going into the funeral of my friend I can’t help but reflect on whether I am making as much of a difference as I can with my life while I have the opportunity.
Beyond the precious relationships with family and friends, I suspect that almost everyone who reads this newsletter plays a role, either as staff or volunteer, in the work of a nonprofit doing important work. Are we investing enough of our time, energy, and resources to make a difference or just putting in the minimum and moving on to more busyness? What will each of us be remembered for?
Familiar with the expression, "No one person can fulfill all your needs?"
In the nonprofit world, it would be appropriate to change that slightly to: "No one employer can fulfill all your professional-development needs."
For nonprofits, particularly in this economy, it's not likely that money is available for professional development or, if it is, it's very limited.
Yet we know it's essential to invest in staff members who are the cornerstone of effective programs in our communities.
The responsibility for professional development is a shared one.
The role of an executive director is to promote a culture that supports employees' growth, while the responsibility of the employee is to take initiative in creating a plan for how he or she can acquire new knowledge and skills.
Professional development isn't an add-on; it's a core part of doing one's job well and with energy and enthusiasm for continued learning and performance.
So, I'd like to propose how nonprofit staff might go about creating a do-it-yourself professional-development plan.
Theories about organizational transformation have been pointing in the direction of shared leadership for more than three decades. Experiments with "self-managing" work teams proliferated in the 1980s. In 1990, Peter M. Senge published The Fifth Discipline and popularized the concept of "learning organizations". In 1994, Jack Stack made waves with his book The Great Game of Business, where he championed the value of practicing "open-book management" and engaging workers at all levels. In 1999, Margaret J. Wheatley wrote in Leadership and the New Science, "Western cultural views of how best to organize and lead (now the methods most used in the world) are contrary to what life teaches. And, in 2003, Joseph A. Raelin coined the term "leaderful" in his book Creating Leaderful Organizations, which describes an organization that intentionally creates the structure and culture needed to share leadership among staff, board, volunteers, and other stakeholders.
Despite this dramatic shift in leadership theory, our combined research and experience with nonprofit organizations reveal that most organizations continue to accept a hierarchical structure, with the executive director shouldering an enormous burden of responsibility for organizational success. However, we found that this concentration of power was not because executive directors were power hungry. Nor was it even deliberate. It was due to a lack of familiarity with the alternatives. Read Full Article.
Innovation and Improvement in the Nonprofit Sector
Peter York – TCC Group
Similar to many organizations, the Philadelphia Zoo got to a point where it needed to assess how well it was doing in meeting its ambitious goals. In the mid-1990s the zoo had crafted a new mission, which called for advancing “discovery, understanding, and stewardship of the natural world.”
Years went by. Exhibits were built, opened and closed, and millions of people stepped through the zoo’s doors. And yet, how far had this experience gone in shaping visitors’ attitudes? Even more profoundly, could the zoo take credit for shifting people’s actions, for turning them into the stewards it had envisioned?
The zoo’s efforts to answer these questions suggest a new approach to learning that may no longer warrant the label “program evaluation” as it is typically used in nonprofit sector – to prove something to an audience of funders or donors looking for validation of an entire program’s right to exist. Instead, it seeks to serve the people who create and design programs — the on-the-ground social innovators who benefit from direct insights that improve on their interventions. In other words, it functions like R&D in the private sector, providing a specific look at what is actually working.
So, why is R&D so important to the social sector? TCC Group's data from nearly 2,500 nonprofits provides statistically significant evidence that organizations whose leaders engage in R&D practices (only 5% of all nonprofits surveyed) are more sustainable -- nearly 2.5 times more likely to grow at or above the annual rate of inflation.