Nonprofit organizations are a huge employer in America. In fact, other than the manufacturing and retail industries, nonprofits employ more people than any other sector – 10.7 million people.


And those numbers are expected to increase in 2014 as nearly half of 400 nonprofit groups in a new study say they will be hiring new staff members this year.

Just 17 percent of nonprofits expect to decrease the size of their staffs, a number that has continued to drop during the past three years, according to the 2014 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey conducted by the consulting firm Nonprofit HR Solutions.

The study also found that, for the first time in recent years, more groups say they plan to hire new staff members for new projects (45 percent) rather than using current staff members (43 percent).

While nonprofits from all sectors report increased plans for hiring, more groups in the international/foreign affairs area see more hiring (75 percent) – as well as more reductions (38 percent).

In 2014, an increased number of nonprofits in the following subsectors plan to create new positions: 

Other than international groups, other areas saw reductions in staff as being between 6 and 10 percent.

“The biggest outcome of this survey,” says Nonprofit HR Solutions CEO Lisa Brown Morton, “is the fact that the sector is really rebounding from a hiring perspective. We’re seeing far fewer organizations looking at terminating people, and most of the subsectors are looking at hiring.”

Another important key, says Morton, is that almost every area of the sector is anticipating growth in 2014 in terms of job category.

Mid-level professionals within nonprofits are the most difficult to retain, in particular direct service positions, followed by program/support staff and fundraising/development.

While salary is the biggest reason employees leave nonprofits (32 percent), the study found that many depart to go to work for other nonprofits. One primary reason is the inability of the nonprofit to promote top-performing staff (19 percent), as well as excessive workloads (16 percent).

Nonprofits also lag behind the for-profit sector when it comes to telecommuting opportunities. Of nonprofits surveyed, 65 percent reported that having a flexible telecommuting policy positively impacted their recruitment and retention efforts, yet only two of five groups allowed telecommuting.

For one out of five nonprofit organizations, turnover of staff is the biggest employment challenge at their organization.

Turnover rates in 2013 were 16 percent, a slight improvement over 2012 when turnover rates stood at 17 percent.