Six Ways that Nonprofit Community Development Managers Could Attract and Retain Young Professionals


Hint: It’s not just salary, but that helps

WASHINGTON, DC – August 22, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — Nonprofit managers spoke candidly recently at a national symposium, Young Professionals: The Future of Community Development about the things they are doing that work to attract and retain young professionals in a highly competitive job market.

While providing a competitive salary is among the top items young professionals are looking for, managers and young professionals on various panels at the August NeighborWorks Training Institute symposium in Cincinnati also cited other important factors.

1. Provide professional development opportunities. A senior homeownership manager for one of the largest nonprofits in central Ohio stressed that young professionals are looking for opportunities to develop their skills and to stretch. A company that doesn’t provide that type of environment is not likely to keep young staff long. She added that it didn’t take a large professional development budget to demonstrate an organization’s commitment to skills building. Nonprofits could establish partnerships with community and four-year colleges that enable professional development budget dollars to go further.

2. Be clear with expectations. One young manager from a nonprofit in New York City explained how at his organization “a great deal of time” was spent on whether or not to include blue jeans as part of business casual. While being able to wear blue jeans to work might seem trivial, his point was not that nonprofits should allow blue jeans, but that policies need to be clear and aligned with the culture of the organization.

3. Think outside the hiring box. Nonprofits that hire people with talent and potential, and that are willing to train new staff for specific jobs, will have a better chance at retaining good young people who may not be wedded to a specific skills career path, but who are eager to take on new tasks that move the organization forward.

4. Provide access to board members and other senior leadership. Today’s young professionals live in an all-access world, and expect to have greater access to senior management than baby boomers. By enabling substantive interaction with Boards and other senior leadership, nonprofits realize dual benefits: young staff members obtain a broader look at the organization, and Board members and C-suite leaders may be infused with new ideas.

5. Stay competitive with salary. While nonprofits will not likely ever be able to compete with the Fortune 500, a reasonably competitive salary combined with other benefits may help nonprofits compete for the best and the brightest — who just happen to be mission-focused too.

6. Make work fun. One manager at nonprofit in central Florida explained that it was the occasional celebrations at her nonprofit, where achievements generated even small parties, that was one of the things that has kept her at her organization for more than 10 years.

About NeighborWorks America
NeighborWorks America creates opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $19.5 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation’s leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.

Doug Robinson, , 202-220-2360, twitter: @neighborworkspr

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