Nonprofit turnover lower than for-profit

The average job turnover rate among nonprofit employers is 21 percent, less than half the average for private industry, a new study says.

The share of employees leaving private firms was nearly 45 percent in 2006, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, more than twice the 21 percent nonprofit turnover rate measured by online job site Opportunity Knocks in 2007.

The Opportunity Knocks 2008 Nonprofit Retention and Vacancy Report found that turnover decreases as organization size and budget increase.

Yet larger organizations were more troubled by turnover than smaller groups.

Nearly six in 10 nonprofits with budgets over $5 million and turnover rates of 21 percent saw employee retention as a problem, the study says.

But fewer than four in 10 respondents with budgets between $100,000 and $499,000 believed turnover is a problem, though their rates were higher at 28 percent.

The study found more turnover in middle and entry-level positions than top posts.

Administrative and support positions had the highest vacancy rates, the report says, followed by specialist or professional positions and program managers.

Positions requiring high levels of training and specialization, such as executive directors, marketing staff and information-technology managers, remained vacant the longest.

In nearly all job types, a quarter of vacated positions were still open four months after the previous employee left.

Turnover rates varied substantially between sectors, with youth development and human service organizations showing the highest rates of 37 percent and 28 percent respectively.

The lowest turnover was in education positions, at 13 percent, and civil rights and advocacy groups, at 15 percent, the study says.

The most common reasons to leave a nonprofit job were the receipt of a competitive job offer, followed closely by getting fired.

The study was based on data from 425 Opportunity Knocks employers with budgets from $100,000 to over $5 million and paid employees ranging from one to 1,500.

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