Nearly Half of Nonprofit Staff Employees Expect Cost Cutting in 2021

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Nearly half (49 percent) of nonprofit employees expect their organizations to implement cost-cutting measures in 2021, a survey by Eagle Hill Consulting finds.

According to the 2020 Eagle Hill Consulting Nonprofit Survey of more than five hundred nonprofit staff, 58 percent of respondents said their employer took steps to reduce costs in 2020, with program reductions (30 percent) topping the list, followed by hiring freezes (30 percent), staff furloughs (25 percent), salary reductions (24 percent), and layoffs (20 percent). Fifty-four percent of respondents also said their organization made significant changes to its goals and activities over the course of the year, while 82 percent said their organization had changed how it serves constituents in response to COVID-19.

The survey also found that many organizations over the last six months had made changes to their fundraising in support of COVID-related activities (51 percent) and racial justice initiatives (19 percent), and that 58 percent of respondents reported that their organization had increased its focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, including adding training (44 percent), facilitating staff conversations (33 percent), establishing new governance structures (18 percent), creating affinity groups (17 percent), making changes to its recruiting policies/practices (14 percent), and adopting new HR policies (12 percent).

“The good news is that most nonprofits leaders are not hesitating to make changes in response to a multitude of unprecedented challenges,” said Eagle Hill Consulting president and CEO Melissa Jezior. “But change is never easy for employees, and it’s even more complicated when employees are operating with fewer resources, higher demands, and they’re fearful about their job security….For nonprofits to continue to deliver on their mission during these uncertain times, it will be critical for leaders to make employee engagement a top priority. Employees are the driving force behind the resilience and innovation that is required for nonprofits to not only survive this turmoil but emerge stronger once we’re through these rough waters.”

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