Nonprofits Come to Terms With Human Resources

from The New York Times:

Philanthropists Start Requiring Management Courses to Keep Nonprofits Productive

Pierre M. Omidyar and Peter B. Lewis are in many ways opposites. Mr. Omidyar, the founder of eBay, is shy, soft-spoken and formal, while Mr. Lewis, who made Progressive Insurance into the powerhouse it is today, bluntly speaks his mind and revels in stopping people midsentence by taking off his prosthetic leg during meetings.

But as philanthropists, both are handing out human resources advice along with the money they give to nonprofit groups, a strategy that underscores concerns by donors and even some organizations’ leaders about the management of nonprofits.

… Human resources is, in fact, the nonprofit version of “eat your peas,” according to a study done last fall of some 3,000 leaders of smaller charities by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the Meyer Foundation. Those nonprofit executives … ranked human resources the most challenging and least satisfying part of their jobs.

Only a few said personnel management was “energizing,” while more than half said it was “somewhat depleting” or “depleting.” Marla Cornelius, senior project director at CompassPoint, said: “There’s no such thing as a period of time when you’re not challenged by staff issues as the leader of a nonprofit. And since many nonprofits don’t have a dedicated human resources staff person, managing personnel just sucks you in and takes over your life.”