Nonprofit Employees Lack Confidence in Retirement Planning

TIAA-CREF Study: More than half are satisfied with current employment, yet financial concerns prevail

Employees surveyed represented charitable organizations, foundations, and professional associations

WASHINGTON & NEW YORK–()–According to a study released today by the TIAA-CREF Institute and Independent Sector, about 45 percent of all employees in the nonprofit sector are not confident with their ability to prepare financially for retirement. The findings underscore the need for the nonprofit and philanthropic sector to address their employees’ long-term financial security, create more opportunities for advancement within the sector, and look for national, cross-sector solutions.

The Financial Security and Careers in the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Sector survey polled 1,000 full-time employees (age 21 and older) in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector on their motivations and satisfaction in the workplace, including their plans, preparation and readiness for retirement. The nonprofit and philanthropic sector consists of 1.6 million organizations, including charities, foundations and professional associations, and employs approximately 10 percent of the U.S. workforce.

According to the survey, while about 59 percent of sector employees are very or extremely satisfied with their current employment, nearly one-half of employees have considered leaving the sector to receive greater compensation elsewhere.

Career advancement is another concern among nonprofit and philanthropic employees. More than 90 percent of sector employees say personal satisfaction with their organization’s mission is a central driver for their career decisions, but only 30 percent are very or extremely satisfied with career advancement opportunities.

“The survey indicates that while nonprofit employees are satisfied overall with their jobs, they have concerns about their ability to retire comfortably,” said Paul Yakoboski, senior economist at the TIAA-CREF Institute. “The results demonstrate the need for financial planning and advice to help these employees combine the best of both worlds: a fulfilling job and a secure financial future.”

“Unfortunately, concerns about financial security can undermine the sector’s ability to attract and retain the most talented individuals to address the tough challenges we face,” said Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “We hope this report will deepen our understanding of the issues and propel our community to consider how to secure the financial future of staff and those interested in working in the charitable sector. Financial security will make it possible for these leaders to remain in the sector over an entire career.”

The survey indicates that while nonprofit employees are satisfied overall with their jobs, they have concerns about their ability to retire comfortably

“Nonprofit organizations are a vital and growing part of every community,” said Stephanie Bell-Rose, head of the TIAA-CREF Institute. “We partnered with Independent Sector on this study to bring attention to the importance of lifetime financial security for nonprofit sector employees and, as a result, to the growing importance of assisting the nonprofit sector. We hope that this research will help us engage sector leaders in a conversation on addressing their employees’ financial concerns.”

The full research report can be downloaded on the Institute’s website.

About TIAA-CREF Institute

The TIAA-CREF Institute helps advance the ways individuals and institutions plan for financial security and organizational effectiveness. The Institute conducts in-depth research, provides access to a network of thought leaders, and enables those we serve to anticipate trends, plan future strategies and maximize opportunities for success.

About Independent Sector

Independent Sector is a nonprofit, nonpartisan network of approximately 600 nonprofits, foundations and corporate philanthropy programs, collectively representing tens of thousands of charitable groups in every state across the nation. Its mission is to advance the common good by leading, strengthening and mobilizing the nonprofit and philanthropic community. To learn more about IS, please visit

About the Survey

One thousand full-time nonprofit employees were surveyed by telephone during July 2011. Paul Yakoboski, senior research fellow with the TIAA-CREF Institute, led the survey development, with value input and writing support from Megan Bolado, Nadine Jalandoni and Mikaela Seligman of Independent Sector. Survey participants included executives, managers, professionals, and administrators of the nonprofit and philanthropic workforce.

TIAA-CREF Institute is a division of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA), New York, NY.