As a young professional going through training at a RSM, I was introduced to the variety of industries the company serves. The one industry that stuck out to me the most was nonprofit. When I thought of nonprofit organizations before, I thought of organizations with powerful missions and little money. It was not until speaking with my nonprofit focused coworkers and nonprofit clients that I began to learn how complex nonprofit organizations actually are and how similar they are to for profit organizations. Just like for profits, nonprofits have employees and leaders that run the organization’s every day operations. Additionally, they have their own technology that helps them communicate their mission and cultivate individual participation by either membership or donation.
Engaging employees is a common challenge for nonprofit organizations. Staff sizes tend to be small and turnover is typically high. The 2021 edition of The NonProfit Times Best Nonprofits to Work For revealed how some of the most successful nonprofit leaders engaged their employees this past year, including sending personal gifts or messages, investing in employee benefits, and encouraging staff to complete training and advance their education. Gifts and messages reminded employees that their leaders were thinking about them and that they appreciated the work the work they were doing. Investment in employee benefits paid off in terms of lowering turnover rates and encouraging staff to further education provided a sense of mastery and purpose. It’s interesting to learn the parallels amongst nonprofit and for profit organizations when it comes to engaging their employees. Employees drive innovation at any organization and engaging them is crucial to an organization’s success.
Similar to for profit, nonprofit organizations are becoming increasingly dependent on the technology they use. Nonprofits typically use technology to manage their financial, employee, and membership data. It was reported common frustrations leaders have when it comes to their technology are lack of process automation and organization efficiency. However, this does not mean progress is not being made. Many nonprofits had to rethink their digital strategy during the pandemic and the majority saw increased engagement from members. Additionally, Microsoft recognized nonprofits that had transitioned to cloud based solutions prior to the pandemic allowing them to “continue their critical work and maximize their impact.” Here we are seeing another parallel between nonprofits and for profit organizations wanting to be more efficient and expand their efforts.
There are few people that have never been part of or worked with a nonprofit organization. When I look back on my experience with nonprofits, I realized I took for granted all the work and investment that happened behind the scenes. Just like for profits, nonprofits rely on harnessing employee engagement for innovative ideas and utilize technology to bring those ideas to fruition.