Passion, Purpose and Professionalism
Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 8: Enhancing learning and skill development among paid staff and volunteers in nonprofit organizations
Investment in human capital is essential to achieving high-performing nonprofit organizations. As Rodriquez et al. (2002, p. 309) concisely put it, ‘High-performing people are critical for high-performing organizations.’ A skilled workforce is critical in meeting the continuously complex demands placed on the nonprofit sector from myriad stakeholders. For example, due in part to the economic downturn in the United States (US), the nonprofit sector faces rising demands for services such as food banks, homeless shelters, counseling, emergency assistance, and family support services. Coupled with dramatic increases in an aging US population (US Depart- ment of Health and Human Services, 2011), nonprofits are experiencing greater demands for services than ever before, especially in the areas of health, human services and housing. Finally, in a performance-driven era, nonprofits are held to be increasingly accountable by donors (West, 2010a), regulatory agencies, funding entities, and the public. Combined, these multifaceted challenges require nonprofit managers and administrators to be equipped with specialized skills (Tierney, 2006). In its ‘State of the Nonprofit Industry Survey’, Blackbaud (2004) identified top management challenges reported by 1319 professionals as securing funding, ensuring program growth, driving board effectiveness, retaining staff, mission awareness and keeping pace with technology.
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