The next ten years are likely to see some major shifts in how we manage human capital in the nonprofit sector. The likely drivers will be state budget cuts, globalization, and new technology.
Here are my predictions for changes we are likely to see in the arena of nonprofit human resources:
- Integration of Volunteer Labor
A tight fiscal environment will have more nonprofits looking to volunteers to stay afloat. As the value of effective volunteer management becomes better understood, HR will become the logical place to house the function. This will not only increase nonprofit capacity to engage volunteers, but also make HR more effective in working with paid staff. It will shift HR from a mindset of “compliance” to one of “engagement.”
- Collective Career Pathing
Most nonprofits are too small to offer many advancement options to rising stars in their organization. The result is often frustration and the permanent loss of this talent–often to companies who can provide greater opportunities. There is talk now of creating collectives that proactively develop talent across a network of nonprofits to provide a career track that can compete with the professional development programs of large companies. Rising stars would start at a given nonprofit but would then rotate to others over time to ensure ongoing growth. They ultimately might come back to the organization where they began when there is a senior role that fits their developed skill set.
- Off-Shoring Labor
In China you can hire a college-educated and skilled employee for around $10,000 per year. With state budget cuts and new tools that make virtual communication and collaboration possible, we will see nonprofits opening offices abroad to not only support back office functions, but also provide services directly. Picture a live tutor available all day via a computer in the back of every classroom.
- Spanish Uber Alles
A leader of a major corporate employer recently shared that they are considering making Spanish a required skill for all new employees and having current employees take classes to gain the language if they don’t have it already. This won’t happen to nonprofits in all issues and all states, but it will be something we see more often.
- Board Oversight
Boards today pay little attention to human capital and instead focus on financial capital. As the complexity and importance of human capital becomes more apparent, boards will begin to build systems to give them the transparency they need to ensure the organization is optimizing their human capital.
- Online Learning
Most professional development courses today are too expensive and don’t offer the flexibility to make them accessible to nonprofit professionals. The corporate sector has spent tons of cash perfecting online learning to address this issue, and it will likely make its way to the nonprofit sector in the next few years.
- Compensation Scandals–Again
Nonprofit executive compensation is very uneven, and the American people are not aligned with the idea of paying competitive wages in the nonprofit sector. This will be exacerbated by state budget cuts, which will make anyone making more than minimum wage look like they are unethical. The sector will need to find a common voice to address this issue that will resonate with the media and politicians.
Aaron Hurst is the President & CEO at the Taproot Foundation.