PwC Australia’s 3rd Annual Not-for-profit CEO Survey

Upskilling and delivering in a digital world

For the first time, New Zealand Not-for-profit (NFP) CEOs have joined their Australian counterparts in sharing their insights in PwC’s 3rd Annual Not-for-profit CEO Survey. The results from this year’s survey highlights two core themes impacting small to large NFPs across cause areas: facing into the skills shortage and delivering in a digital world.

With both nations currently experiencing record low unemployment and rising inflation, it’s not surprising to see a consistent trend in prioritising upskilling efforts when compared to previous survey results. This year, results indicate that 77% of NFPs have upskilled employees over the past 12 months, creating a stronger organisational culture and greater employee engagement (80%), higher workforce productivity (77%) and greater organisational growth (72%).

Facing into the skills shortage

75% of NFP CEOs indicate they are feeling the adverse impacts of widespread skills shortages. To address the growing skills shortage pressures, NFP CEOs can:

  • Strengthen the organisation’s employee value proposition (EVP), with a focus on role based, career path upskilling and training.
  • Outsource non core activities to external providers.
  • Pay a premium to attract professionals with the necessary skills.

This year’s data reveals a significant uptick (42%) of NFPs making moderate to significant progress in strengthening their EVP. A strong EVP is a valuable tool for organisations wanting to balance tangible and intangible benefits needed to attract and retain talent. These benefits can often be the reason why an employee chooses to work, and stay, at one organisation over another. Conversely, 58% of NFP CEOs felt they are making limited or no progress in developing their EVP to combat the current tight labour market. This represents significant opportunity for the sector.

Survey results found smaller NFPs (annual revenue under AUD $500,000) are significantly disadvantaged in the digital inclusion stakes. More than half of respondents reported that no skills and training were provided to their employees to help them adjust to the impact of technology. However, 88% of CEOs of large NFPs (annual revenue greater than AUD $3 million), provided training for their workforce.The majority of NFP leaders surveyed (58%) also cited upskilling as an effective talent acquisition and retention tool. The experience of smaller NFPs could be attributed to a variety of factors including the lack of resources (budget, people, time and knowledge) which respondents cited as the biggest challenge to developing upskilling programs.

In the past three years, organisations have started to step back from a homogeneous approach to upskilling, applying a role-based focus. Survey results indicate that there is greater clarity organisations’ ability to define the skills required to drive future growth strategies which supports this shift.

A growing recognition across the sector of the role organisations play in supporting their employees’ was prevalent in the survey results, with 60% of respondents indicating that they have made progress in implementing mental health programs to support their workforce and that adjustments to the workplace, including hybrid working, remains a priority for NFP CEOs.

Delivery in a digital world

Survey results reveal a large number of NFP CEOs (59%) do not think that automation is putting many jobs at risk. The skills that NFP CEOs believe their employees need to prepare for the impact of technology remain consistent, with training in new software and programs, data analysis/analytics, teamwork and collaboration topping the list. Digitisation continues to have a transformative effect on the NFP sector, impacting how people do their jobs, how outreach is administered, and the potential for diversification in funding models. A high percentage (67%) of NFPs see their organisations or the services they provide fundamentally changing due to digitisation, with 77% shifting their operations to address beneficiary or supporter needs in the digital age.

Nearly half (48%) of those surveyed indicated they had made significant or moderate progress in establishing a cybersecurity and privacy uplift program. Yet, cybersecurity training and privacy compliance continued to rank low in the key skills identified by NFP leaders that employees require to prepare for the impact of technology on their roles. Concurrently, we are seeing a rising threat level and risk to business continuity of reportable cyber incidents, reinforcing that a deeper understanding of responsibilities to protect and limit the use of personally identifiable information is crucial for organisations across the sector.

To maximise impact in an ever changing world NFPs are working together as a community of solvers across service delivery, fundraising partnerships, joint ventures, mergers and advocacy. For example, ahead of the Federal Election earlier this year food rescue organisations OzHarvest, Foodbank and SecondBite collaborated to seek three key commitments from all political parties and independents to ensure vulnerable people have consistent and reliable access to food, flagging a fundamental shift in how NFPs are increasing the power of their collective voice.

Looking beyond intra-sector collaboration, in 2022, 48% of NFP CEOs surveyed partnered with the private sector on future skills, and 46% collaborated with academic and government institutions, the latter representing a drop of 4%. This represents a significant opportunity for cross sector organisations to work together and learn from each other.

Despite 57% of NFP CEOs having made progress on implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy to attract a wide range of talent and ensure inclusiveness in how they work, there is more to be done to ensure diversity at board level. Diversity of skills and experience at a leadership level are vital for both the awareness and adoption of technology to innovate in an operational sense and the propensity to collaborate with others for upskilling and growth.

Contact us

Jane Edwards

Jane Edwards

Director, Corporate Sustainability, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 3 8603 5839

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