Job postings show nonprofits faring better

Hiring among nonprofit organizations is inching ahead.

And according to new national and state analyses, it's stronger than hiring among for-profit companies.

Job postings by Metroplex nonprofits are up this year, according to organizations in Fort Worth and Dallas that publish postings. Federal stimulus dollars have added jobs at some nonprofits in certain sectors, such as services for the homeless. Experts who follow nonprofits say managers have loosened up somewhat in 2010, after a year of limbo.

Just last week, a new analysis of federal jobs data by Johns Hopkins University, showed that nonprofit employment in Texas grew by an average of 3.2 percent annually from the second quarter of 2007 through the second quarter of 2009 -- fourth-best in the 21-state study. Nationally, nonprofit employment grew by 2.5 percent annually during the same time, the study said, attributing the gains to the stimulus and resilient nonprofit leaders.

The findings might surprise many nonprofit managers, who annually endure the typical ebbs and flows of employee churn and funding. At the same time, they have had to push through an agonizing recession that meant pay and hiring freezes and layoffs for some.

What's clear is that the picture is improving.

At the Funding Information Center in Fort Worth, which posts paid job listings for nonprofits, organizations posted 272 jobs through August. That compared with 242 at the same time last year. Job posts peaked at 545 in 2007, then tailed off to 495 the next year and 361 last year.

Christi Stinson, executive director of the center, said many organizations put off hiring last year but have opened up somewhat this year.

"2009 was such a year of uncertainty," she said. "They couldn't stay frozen forever."

Katie Edwards, vice president of marketing at the Center for Nonprofit Management in Dallas, says her agency's data show job posts on track to reach 860 this year, compared with 734 in 2009. The center manages, a statewide nonprofit jobs site.

Even if nonprofits are hiring again, Edwards says many of their workers are still saddled with more responsibility.

"Generally, overall," the jobs picture is better, she said. "But the nonprofit sector still struggles to do more with less. One staff person may be doing the jobs of three or four people."

Who's hiring?

Nationally, nonprofit employment growth has been buoyed in part by overall strength in certain segments of the job market with demand for employees among both for-profit and nonprofit firms, the Johns Hopkins report said. Some examples:

Social assistance: Nonprofit jobs grew 1.4 percent on average from 2007 to 2008. For-profit jobs in the same field grew 5.8 percent.

Nursing homes. Nonprofit jobs grew 1.8 percent; for-profit jobs grew 3.2 percent.

Primary and secondary schools: Nonprofit jobs grew 3.9 percent; for-profit jobs grew 1.4 percent.

Ambulatory healthcare: Nonprofit jobs grew 4.2 percent; for-profit jobs grew 2.6 percent.

At the Funding Information Center, more than a third of this year's job postings have come from general human services, and a third from youth services.

Nearly 60 percent are for jobs in program services. Another 15 percent are in fundraising, a category that while small in percentage, always offers up its share of job postings because development officers often move for higher-paying posts, people in the field say.

The stimulus is responsible for some of the job creation, people in nonprofits say. The government's Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing program, for example, injected money into 14 Tarrant County nonprofits.

Increases in employment are also following increased demand for services, said Sara Ramirez, vice president of development and public relations for Catholic Charities of Fort Worth.

"This year, we hired 30 employees on demand for services," she said. In May, she said, the agency took 2,416 calls for help. In June, that rose to 4,845.

While the agency received stimulus money, Ramirez said Catholic Charities has done its hiring with "agency dollars" -- meaning sources that won't expire like the stimulus.

At SafeHaven of Tarrant County, which offers programs and services aimed at ending domestic violence, the agency has hired more than 50 people this year, largely to fill regular turnover.

Stimulus money from the housing program added two employees and is providing financial assistance for clients' rents and rental and utility deposits. A grant from the federal Violence Against Women Act added three employees, allowing the agency to begin providing case management services to nonresidential clients.

In the last year, SafeHaven, which typically has 125-130 employees, also secured two state grants for programs addressing peer abuse and dating violence among youth, enabling it to hire four education specialists.

SafeHaven, like many other nonprofits, is also seeing a decrease in United Way funding as that agency revamps its funding priorities to focus on education, income and health services. Under the new guidelines, United Way will continue to fund SafeHaven's core services, but domestic violence and child abuse aren't included in new "impact" areas, so SafeHaven won't receive impact funding, said Sarah McClellan-Brandt, SafeHaven's community relations coordinator.

SafeHaven, which has a $6.5 million budget, saw a $103,000 decrease in United Way funding this year and projects at least a $225,000 decrease over three years.

"A $100,000-plus loss is not easily replaced," and equals more than 1,300 nights of shelter for women and children, said Mary Lee Hadley, CEO at the agency, which implemented a pay freeze for employees last year. "We must replace these dollars from other sources."

The agency's jobs require various backgrounds. Entry-level posts require demonstrated interest through volunteerism, the agency says. Most jobs require a background in social work. Case managers require master's degrees.

Most difficult to find are bilingual candidates, said Misty Farr, vice president of human resources.

"We struggle with finding bilingual candidates," Farr said. "We're looking for a specific skill set and bilingual on top of it."

What happens to stimulus-related programs and staffing when the money runs out? If the programs are still needed, agencies must hunt for new funding sources.

But "the hope is when the need starts to dry up, that's how long the funds will last," said Carol Klocek, who chairs the Mayor's Advisory Commission on Homelessness and is executive director of the YWCA Fort Worth & Tarrant County.

At ACH Child and Family Services -- formerly All Church Home for Children -- in Fort Worth, a $50 million endowment that provides close to 40 percent of the agency's $8 million annual budget has helped the agency maintain programs and sidestep moves such as pay freezes, said Barbara Clark-Galupi, vice president of marketing and social business ventures.

The agency, which has about 150 employees and 30 percent average turnover annually, has added employees connected to new programs in the last year and a half.

That includes one connected to a learning independence program partially funded by the stimulus, two to staff the agency's Bell Tower Chapel and Garden in southeast Fort Worth and five in foster care, Clark-Galupi said.

At the same time, the agency spent part of the summer trying to absorb 14 employees connected to two state programs whose funding ended Sept. l. It found jobs for only four, laying off the other 10.

The agency's United Way funding is also being cut. United Way has provided up to $175,140 toward the $600,000-$800,000 annual operating costs of ACH's runaway shelter. That funding is down to $126,311 this year, Clark-Galupi said.

The cut hasn't affected staffing, she said.

"We have been able to secure another small temporary grant to replace a portion of the lost funding from United Way," Clark-Galupi said. "We are actively seeking additional donations and searching out other more sustainable funding streams for this program."

In the arts community, few nonprofits have made news with budget increases, or significant cutbacks, said Jody Ulich, president of the Arts Council of Fort Worth & Tarrant County.

That's a credit to the efficiency of their operations, she said.

"They really run these lean, mean arts organizations," Ulich said. "There's not a lot of fluff."

Scott Nishimura, 817-390-7808