Why the California Conversation?


California’s nonprofit sector relies on talented professionals to deliver needed goods and services that advance our quality of life, economy, and our democracy. This nonprofit workforce provides the social safety net on behalf of government. Builds communities where people want to live. Enables millions of Americans to create meaningful lives through volunteering and giving. And organizes social movements that advance liberty and justice for all. 

Today, the nonprofit workforce faces an existential challenge. In recent years, multiple new crises have put extreme pressure on the workforce. A survey by the National Council of Nonprofits finds that among California nonprofits:

  • Eighty percent of responding organizations report job vacancies, and 40% have more vacancies now than before the pandemic.

  • Seventy-seven percent of nonprofits with vacancies said program and service delivery positions were unfilled. 20% have longer waiting lists for services than in March 2020.

  • Sixty-six percent of respondents said budget constraints or insufficient funds affect their ability to recruit and retain employees, followed by salary competition (62%) and stress/burnout (40%). 

Yet despite the significant value of our workforce, and the current and chronic crises it is facing, policymakers and private funders rarely acknowledge the existence or contributions of the workforce. In fact, while government and foundations rely on nonprofit workers to achieve their aims, too often the compensation, wellbeing, and sustainability of nonprofit labor is undermined by a deficit of investment from these very funders.

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