Charities struggling to attract and retain skilled staff, global study finds


More than half of not-for-profit organisations are struggling to attract skilled staff, a global survey has revealed.

Research carried out among 1,100 not-for-profit organisations from 115 countries by the Personio Foundation and the consulting firm Impact46 found that 52 per cent of respondents said attracting skilled staff was a major problem. 

It found that a lack of funding could affect an NGO’s ability to attract and retain talent, with 72 per cent of respondents saying their salaries were not competitive compared with the private sector.

Of the 121 UK-based not-for-profits surveyed, 90 per cent said they could not offer a competitive salary compared with the private sector.

The survey also found that staff retention is an area of concern for not-for-profits, with annual turnover rates in the sector of between 15 per cent and 25 per cent, compared with 10 per cent in the private sector.

Of the UK not-for-profits surveyed, 37 per cent had a turnover rate of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent in the past three years and 50 per cent had a turnover rate of more than 8 per cent in the past three years.

This turnover rate is attributed to the lack of competitive salaries and benefits, as well as limited career growth opportunities and difficult working conditions.

About one-quarter of the not-for-profits surveyed reported poor career development and progression, an issue especially true of very small and small organisations where “bottlenecks are frequent”.

The research found that burnout levels among staff in not-for-profit organisations are also significantly higher than for those the private sector.

The survey showed that 15 per cent of respondents reported burnout but that, bearing in mind the “well-known underreporting of this issue and the other recent sources on this topic (by Opportunity Knocks), the actual figure might be closer to 30 per cent”.

Nicola Croasta, chief executive of Impact46, said: “It is becoming increasingly important for NGOs to invest in their employees and take a broader view of compensation. 

“In addition to the regular salary, employee satisfaction can also be increased through non-monetary levers – for example, by creating a pleasant environment, flexible working hours, training and development opportunities, the establishment of support contact points or improved organisational and process structures.”

The Personio Foundation was set up in 2021 by the software company Personio and supports not-for-profit organisations through funding and by deepening their HR knowledge.

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