• Pat Libby

Looking ahead: 2 to-do’s for nonprofits in 2022

Updated: Dec 14, 2021


No matter where you live or what kind of organization you work for, every nonprofit has been on a Corona-roller coaster for nearly two years.

The virus threatened the very existence of some organizations while others nearly drowned in a tidal wave of service demands (according to the University of San Diego, 61% of nonprofits saw the need for their services skyrocket.) All were forced to squeeze every ounce of creativity to navigate what was and is still an evolving reality.

Today, the dust has settled somewhat. Most nonprofits not only survived, they thrived (thanks in large part to flexible foundation funding and forgivable federal PPP loans)*. As a result, 69% of nonprofits in San Diego report their financial health is strong which I suspect mirrors national trends. It is no wonder that 57% predict the size of their staff will increase next year.

As we take stock of this past year and look toward the one that is looming on our calendars, here are two things that should be on every organization’s mind (and to-do list) for 2022:

1. Do a climate check

It’s a simple fact that the greatest asset of any nonprofit is its employees. And given that every human being on the planet has been emotionally taxed for a variety of reasons since the advent of Covid, it makes sense to take a moment to check-in to see how folks are feeling about their work and work environment.

You’ll want to find out whether your staff feel they are listened to, whether they feel a sense of belonging and purpose, whether they feel they have learning opportunities, and whether they have confidence in the leadership of the organization among other things.

There are lots of ways to get this information. If you are a supervisor, you can either meet with people individually or in groups depending on the size of your organization, do a simple organization-wide survey (many samples are available online including this one from LinkedIn), or bring in an outside consultant to help you conduct a third-party assessment of your nonprofit’s climate. If you are not a supervisor, share this blog with yours to begin the discussion.

Do I need to emphasize how important it is for staff to feel safe to share their thoughts with whoever is gathering this information?

Once you learn what you need to know about your organization’s climate, create a plan to tackle the common themes that need to be addressed. This may require an expenditure of money but what is more important than ensuring your staff feels valued and productive?

2. Do a compensation analysis

Compensation is about salary and benefits. If your organization is still feeling queasy about its financial outlook, consider low-hanging fruit such as benefits that don’t cost much but provide enormous psychic lifts. That includes things like adding holidays or vacation days.

For instance, several nonprofits I know close their offices in between Christmas and New Year to give everyone a break. Others have added Cesar Chavez Day and Juneteenth which have the added benefit of acknowledging important people and events that shaped American lives but which haven’t been celebrated widely until recently.

If you haven’t conducted a compensation analysis in recent years, it’s probably time to do so. There are unfortunately, few easy resources to accomplish this task although the SHRM has published a wonderful online article that can guide your efforts. Your HR department or a knowledgeable consultant may be required to ensure the information is accurate.

Neither of these items is simple to accomplish but each will go a long way to ensuring your employees feel that your organization cares about them.

Both are two important to overlook.

--- Pat Libby is a nonprofit consultant and author of The Lobbying Strategy Handbook: 10 Steps to Advancing Any Cause Effectively from Oxford University Press. She has served as an academic, senior executive, board member, and consultant to innumerable nonprofit organizations and foundations for more than three decades.

Get in touch with questions or to get more information!

*In San Diego, although this is likely to mirror national data.

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