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PNP Salary Survey Report: 'The Year of the Program'

March 29, 2013

(Robert F. Duvall, Ph.D., is director of special projects at Professionals for NonProfits (PNP), a full-service staffing firm exclusively serving the nonprofit sector.)

Program-deliveryProfessionals for NonProfits has just released its annual Salary Survey Report. With a focus on salary ranges, practices, and trends in the nonprofit sector in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, the survey has gained widespread credibility over the last three years and always generates considerable interest.

A look at the Survey Report for 2012 reveals some intriguing developments. While there is great variety among organizations -- in terms of budget size, area of service, location, and scope of activity -- one theme appears to stand out: More than 80 percent of the 6,500 nonprofits surveyed reported a new or renewed focus on the effective development of programs and services.

"In many ways, 2012 could be called 'The Year of Program'. Nonprofits of all sizes and types are taking a serious and fresh look at what they offer and how they serve the public through their programs," said Gayle A. Brandel, president and CEO of Professionals for NonProfits. Moreover, the renewed focus on programs and services is expressed in four inter-related areas: development, delivery, evaluation, and efficiency.

1. A growing number of nonprofits -- a third of the respondents to the 2012 survey -- are working deliberately to refresh their offerings, both in terms of new, innovative programming and by reinstating programs and services that had been cut back over the past few years. Accompanying, and often driving, these programmatic developments is a growing awareness of the need for good analyses of the market. Forward-looking nonprofits are acting on the realization that it is no longer enough to offer a program or service and expect an audience to respond positively -- regardless of how much it might merit it. Building a better mousetrap is no guarantee that people will rush to embrace your product. First, you have to determine whether they want to catch mice!

2. Increasingly, nonprofits are exploring and adopting new ways of delivering programs and services. The use of social media is a prime example. New channels of communication create new opportunities -- and challenges -- for the effective delivery of programs and services.

3. Integrated with these trends is a growing interest in evaluation and assessment. Nonprofits are asking: How do we know our program initiatives are working? And how do we measure their impact? In the face of reduced government funding, lower revenue, increased competition for visibility and support, and the need to engage volunteers, members, and boards, this is a critical issue. Identifying and using appropriate instruments for data gathering, analysis, and assessment will be an ongoing concern for nonprofit organizations in 2013 -- and beyond.

4. Correlated with improved program development, delivery, and evaluation is a growing concern for increased organizational efficiency. "Less can be more" is a mantra we hear often these days, and the 2012 Survey Report reflects that reality.

The effect of all these trends on staffing needs in the sector is significant. The report found that 33 percent of the nonprofits who responded said they added staff in 2012, while more than 37 percent said they plan to hire additional staff in 2013.

Indeed, with a stronger focus on improved delivery of core programs, heightened visibility for those programs, and new and improved ways to secure financial support, nonprofits are adding staff in three key, and inter-related, areas: Programs and Services (54 percent), Fundraising and Development (39 percent), and Marketing (35 percent).

And we project these trends will continue in 2013, making it even more definitively "The Year of Program Growth."

For a breakdown of Salary Survey responses by region/metro area (i.e., NYC, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C.), visit the PNP Web site (registration required).

-- Robert F. Duvall

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