This month, Abila published the results of a survey among 300 nonprofit finance professionals about managing nonprofit growth. The survey data was collected recently between May 9 and May 25, 2017. The study, in its entirety, covers several aspects of nonprofit growth: its dynamics and challenges, the role of funding, risk management, and the effect of growth on relationships and office culture. Of special note was a section of the study devoted to the perceptions of millennials (defined as: employee under age 35) and older employees about the nonprofit sector and how millennials fit in. As millennial workers constitute the majority in the work force, the future is now and the respective views of younger and older workers are important for both groups to understand and deal with. Following, is a paraphrasing and summary of the study results.
Perceptions Vary Widely
When asked to describe their millennial colleagues, nonprofit finance professionals over 35 find their counterparts to be idealistic and passionate, but lack loyalty to the organization. In contrast, millennials had a much higher regard for their generation, giving themselves high marks in caring about ethics and transparency, as well as a willingness to contribute to the growth of the organization. This gap in perception may shed some light onto why some nonprofit organizations are having retention issues. An overall survey result is that most nonprofit organizations have a challenge retaining millennial employees, with 78 percent of non-millennials saying it’s a moderate or major challenge.
Below are the comparative survey results when millennials were asked how they perceived themselves vs. how non-millennials viewed them.
Behavioral Trait Millennials Non-Millennials
Care deeply about ethics 87% 28%
Care deeply about transparency 81% 32%
Willing to contribute to organization’s growth 77% 23%
Passionate 74% 34%
Highly motivated 74% 24%
Loyal to their employer 66% 12%
Care deeply about office culture 55% 21%
Idealistic 42% 36%
Characteristically the authors don’t offer any recommendations, leaving nonprofit managers to figure it out. In a sense, the issue will become somewhat mute as time passes and now millennials become managers, as many are already. If nothing else the survey dramatically shows the perceptual gap. Awareness and acceptance are essential as a starting point for improvement.
Lee Bengston, CPA