TIAA: Mission and Job Satisfaction Give Nonprofits an Edge Over For-profit Companies in Attracting and Retaining Talent

Originally Published by TIAA.

A new TIAA survey finds three out of four employees and eight in ten managers choose to work at their nonprofit organizations and stay there for years because they’re committed to making a difference in people’s lives. The Nonprofit Survey, conducted as part of TIAA’s 100-year anniversary and the TIAA Difference Maker 100 program, also found that nonprofit employees and managers are nearly twice as likely to feel that success is defined not by compensation (33 percent and 32 percent) but by helping others, their community or society (71 percent and 77 percent).

“This year marks 100 years of TIAA serving those across the academic, research, cultural, medical, government and nonprofit fields who have dedicated their lives to others,” said Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. president and CEO of TIAA. “We have witnessed firsthand the positive impact these extraordinary individuals have had on the world, and thought what better time than now to shine a light on them, their motivations and how their work brings fulfillment to their own lives.”

According to the survey, managers believe an organization’s values and mission (76 percent) and its ability to offer interesting and satisfying work (64 percent) are two big advantages nonprofit organizations have compared to for-profit companies.

Job security and satisfaction translates to longevity

Fulfilling and interesting work may be one reason employees build long careers in the nonprofit sector. The survey finds:

  • A majority of employees and managers 65 percent and 74 percent respectfully have worked in the nonprofit sector for six or more years, with more than half reporting that they’ve been at their present employer for six years or longer. This is nearly two years longer than the median tenure for employees across all industries (4.2 years), according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
  • More than two-thirds of managers who have been in the sector for six to 10 years think nonprofits do a better job promoting diversity in the workforce than for-profit companies.
  • A striking 73 percent of millennial managers in the sector think nonprofits are better at creating interesting and satisfying jobs than for-profits, a finding that may resonate with individuals who are looking to create an impact while earning a paycheck.

The spirit of helping others spans generations and retirement

The survey shows a strong commitment to giving back among nonprofit employees.

  • Ninety-one percent of employees and 97 percent of managers feel they are personally making a positive difference in their work.
  • Three fourths of employees and 82 percent of managers at nonprofits say they continue to work at their nonprofit organizations because they want to make a difference in other people’s lives.
  • This spirit resonates throughout generations: 76 percent of millennial managers choose to work at nonprofits because they want to create real change in their communities, while 78 percent of baby boomer employees say the values and mission of the organization is important in choosing to work for a nonprofit.
  • This commitment also continues for many people into retirement: Among nonprofit managers, 56 percent plan to volunteer more of their time to a good cause, 42 percent plan to contribute to the work their nonprofit is focused on, and 36 percent plan to contribute to charities they are passionate about. Among managers who have worked in the nonprofit sector for 11 or more years, 61 percent plan to volunteer more time to a cause during their retirement.

Are nonprofit employees and managers financially ready for retirement

While most nonprofit employees and managers are confident they are saving enough for retirement (50 percent and 64 percent), the survey shows some gaps:

  • A majority of all nonprofit workers (62 percent) have yet to calculate how much they will need to retire comfortably. That number rises to 80 percent for millennial employees.
  • More than half of nonprofit employees and managers plan to finance their retirement through either their workplace retirement plan or Social Security. Yet only 39 percent of millennials think they will be able to fund their retirement through Social Security and 55 percent through their workplace retirement plan significantly fewer than their older counterparts (78 percent Social Security and 68 percent workplace retirement plan for baby boomers).
  • When asked about their top retirement security concerns, nonprofit employees and managers cited healthcare costs (79 percent and 78 percent), changes to Social Security (70 percent and 72 percent), lack of guaranteed lifetime income (69 percent and 66 percent) and not saving enough for retirement (69 percent and 63 percent).

“Retirement security and planning are instrumental in giving people the freedom to choose how they spend their time in retirement,” said Ferguson. “It’s imperative that employees and managers in the nonprofit sector make the most of their retirement savings plan and develop positive savings habits, so they gain more confidence and are able to achieve their definition of success in retirement.”

Showcasing those who make a difference

To mark TIAA’s century of helping those who do good do well, TIAA is recognizing nonprofit employees’ contributions and accomplishments by awarding $1 million to support the nonprofit organizations through which they’re making a difference. TIAA will make a $10,000 donation in the name of each TIAA Difference Maker 100 honoree to help enable them continue their positive work and inspire us all to do more to make a difference for the next 100 years. To learn more, visit

“Our survey validated how important making a difference in other people’s lives is to those who work at a nonprofit, and more importantly how it impacts their longevity in the field, career success and plans for retirement,” said Ferguson. “Next month, as part of the TIAA Difference Maker 100 program, we will recognize 100 outstanding individuals who have devoted their lives to improving the world. We look forward to sharing their stories.”

For more information about the TIAA 2018 Nonprofit Survey, read the executive summary.

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