Non-profits have one huge advantage over for-profit corporations: They possess a deep sense of mission and passion. Why is this an advantage? Because these two qualities produce the “sustainable energy” one needs for the long haul.

Let’s face it: Non-profit translates to “no cash” for many NPOs. Also, impact results are often not seen for years.

In 2002, the Brookings Institution’s Center for Public Service published a survey that shows how passionate NPO professionals are. 1,140 randomly selected non-profit employees were surveyed with questions about workplace satisfaction, paychecks and job performance.

Here’s how they compared to Federal and Corporate employees:

The Workforce Wars: Federal, Private and Nonprofit
Federal Employees 

Corporate Employees 

Nonprofit Employees 

Strongly agree that they are given the chance to do the things that they do best

46%

52%

68%

Say they are very satisfied with the opportunity

To accomplish something worthwhile

47%

41%

61%

Say that they are very satisfied with their jobs overall

49%

44%

58%

Cite their paycheck as the reason they come to work

31%

44%

16%

Say that they joined their organization for the for the chance to make a difference, rather than for the salary and benefits

27%

22%

61%

Strongly disagree that their work is boring

57%

58%

75%

Say that they trust their organizations to do the right things just about always

25%

37%

44%

Note that their excitement and passion were sited as the reasons they come to work – not their paychecks!

Paul C. Light, the surveys author concludes: “The nonprofit sector has the most motivated workforce—its 11 million employees have a greater sense of mission, a deeper desire to make a difference, and a greater love of their work than any other workforce in America today.”

Anyone who has been working for a while knows that paychecks have a diminishing “ROI”. Passion, the ultimate renewable energy, has no limits.

My advice, if any? Take this passion and light it on fire! Have employees blog about their work and their personal interests. Post their experiences and profiles on your web-site. Enlist them to contact potential corporate donors. And if you don’t chose to do anything, at least thank your employees for their dedication – face to face.

Comments

  1. I love your blog and this article and just wanted to bring up that after looking at this survey on Brooking’s site, I found that it was interviewing between 10/29/2001 and 1/2/2002, and published in Fall 2002, although I doubt there is much that has changed in the attitudes of non-profit employees compared to the others since then. This post states the publish date is “today,” July 15, 2008.