March 01, 2010

Charities in N.Y. and Washington Look to Hire in 2010, Studies Find

Despite tough times for charities, a trio of new surveys of nonprofit organizations in New York, New Jersey, and Washington shows that most plan to hire in the year ahead—and that the overwhelming majority plan to raise staff salaries in 2010 or at least hold them steady.

Charities are most likely to fill fund-raising and program staff positions this year, according to the reports by Professionals for Nonprofits, a staffing organization with offices in New York and Washington.

And in contrast to a similar study that the group releaseda year ago, the New York respondents were much more upbeat about the state of the economy than their counterparts in New Jersey or the nation’s capital.

Ninety-three percent of the New York organizations surveyed said they believe the worst of the recession is over, compared with 39 percent of groups in neighboring New Jersey and 32 percent of Washington respondents.

Gayle Brandel, president of Professional for Nonprofits, said she wasn’t sure why the New Yorkers were so much more optimistic. “Maybe they thought that because the worst occurred here, in New York, with the financial institutions, and that maybe that was over, that things are getting better,” says Ms. Brandel.

She was also surprised that no positions showed significant decreases in their salary ranges.

In fact, some positions paid much more—notably fund-raising jobs, which rose by 10 percent across the board, and senior-level finance positions, which paid 7 percent more.

Even in tough times, she says, her nonprofit clients have told her that they have a hard time filling those roles, “so they’re willing to pay a little more.”

The organization studied more than 1,200 organizations in total (with nearly 700 of those respondents being located in New York) and collected data from October to December last year.

A 'Mixed Bag’

But the results from her company’s latest surveys, which Ms. Brandel characterizes as “a mixed bag,” show that not all nonprofit organizations weathered the recession the same.

“I thought that all nonprofits probably had cut their staff in 2009, but that wasn’t true at all,” she says.

In New York, for example, while 39 percent of respondents said they had laid off staff members, the remainder had not, and 24 percent said they had hired in 2009. Half of all groups in New York reported giving their workers slight pay increases in some cases.

In Washington, even fewer organizations—27 percent—said they had laid off workers last year, and even more than in New York, 73 percent, gave pay increases.

“It wasn’t a matter of size, so it must have been a matter of what their donorship was like, or how they were structured, or their management team, or just sheer luck,” she says. Small social-service and arts groups did seem to have the toughest time, she says, but others—including educational groups, hospitals, and even some smaller charities in New York that work with homeless people or AIDS patients, program areas that received increased government money—performed well.

  • In New York, 37 percent of organizations expect their staff salaries to remain the same in 2010, while 55 percent expect to raise workers’ pay. Only 5 percent expect to cut salaries.
  • In Washington, 27 percent of groups expect salaries to stay steady, while 65 percent expect to offer raises. Only 2 percent expect to make pay cuts.
  • Among the New Jersey groups, 36 percent expect to hold the line on salaries this year, while 54 percent expect to give raises. Only 3 percent are forecasting salary cuts.
  • In all three regions, more than half expect to hire fund raisers and program staff members: New York groups were most keen on hiring fund raisers (61 percent) while Washington organizations said they were likeliest to hire program staff members (62 percent).

Copies of all three Professionals for Nonprofits 2009 salary surveys are available free on the company’s Web site. Go to: