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Nonprofit Policy Forum

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Meaningfulness in work, Neoliberalism, Work-life balance, Burnout, Nonprofit work


Nonprofit scholars and practitioners alike adhere to a long-held assumption that nonprofit work is, and will remain, inherently meaningful work. The long-term marketization of the nonprofit sector coupled with the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic has undercut this narrative. Our research on meaningful nonprofit work indicates that while many nonprofit workers do find their work meaningful, pay, flexibility, and work/life balance are increasingly important to them. This commentary suggests that nonprofit leaders can no longer presume that workers motivated by prosocial values will seek out and stay with nonprofit work, satisfied with the “psychic income” that comes from doing good work. Nonprofits must be managed and led differently such that they center workers’ contemporary needs and desires. Organizational and public policy initiatives around pay equity and flexible work can support such a transition for the nonprofit sector.


Open Access. © 2023 the author(s), published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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