The Benefits Of Working For A Nonprofit
In the last two weeks, three people I know have either quit their nonprofit job to take a higher-paying for-profit job, or are considering doing so. Low-unemployment job markets have that effect. But the choices you make today can reverse this trend.
“I can’t pay what a for-profit company can pay.” I’ve heard it many times. With it comes a sort of dejected sigh from the nonprofit leader. A surrender that he/she will have to take whomever they can get. And the prophesy comes true when the employee puts in his or her notice.
First, let’s stop putting the focus on salary. People care about many things other than money. Things that nonprofits can offer in abundance, but few do.
Just a very few examples:
Flexibility in work schedules and locations. If work doesn’t require someone to sit in a chair at the office, why are they so often forced to? Yet some nonprofit leaders stick to the idea that “being in the office is always better.” Work is measured by results accomplished, not time spent.
Respect of employee time during “off hours.” The stereotypical Silicon Valley worker getting texts at midnight should not be the norm. Make it a selling point that you leave people alone outside set hours.
Paid use of the employee’s equipment. The employee using his/her own laptop, picking up equipment in their own vehicle, etc. is a common, silent, economic drain. What’s it worth to you to not need to buy new computer equipment? To not need to buy a company car? Reimbursement schemes create tedious work. Just offer an allowance to cover such things and be done with it.
Company-paid travel arrangements. Employees should not have to float the cost to pay for the flights, hotels, etc. on their own and then get reimbursed. Tell your accountant to find a way. Either use a company card to pay for such things, or work with a travel agent who can work with the employee directly.
Reduced cost for other products and services. Huge opportunities here. Reducing the money nonprofit employees spend is just as good as increasing the amount they make. What deal can you work out with the local YMCA to offer an employee discount? What about that professional-development line item that so often goes unused? How about a reciprocal arrangement with other nonprofit organizations in an area? How about paying for a Costco or Sam’s Club membership? What if you sent a farm box to employees each week, saving them the time of shopping for quality fruits and vegetables and helping them to stay healthy? The options are truly endless for the creative leader.
Paid or subsidized health insurance. This is one of the biggest reasons people leave nonprofits, and it doesn’t have to be. Yes, healthcare is expensive. So are the lease, the salaries, and many other things. If you offer healthcare to your employees, thank you. But if you don’t yet, it’s time to say, “What do we need to do/make/accomplish to offer health insurance” instead of “we can’t cover health insurance.” If it never gets budgeted, revenue targets to cover it will never be met. In your planning, consider covering health insurance for people’s pets as well. Pet insurance is inexpensive. It offers huge peace of mind to employees that their furry loved ones are covered in an emergency.
For-profit organizations can often provide more money. But nonprofit organizations, with creative leaders, can provide many benefits that are more meaningful than money. I work with amazing nonprofits who have implemented the above and more, so it can be done.
This week’s mission:
Review the benefits employees receive. Brainstorm additional ideas, hit reply, and share one of your ideas with me. Plan to implement one new benefit each month for the next six months. Working out discounts with local vendors for bulk employee participation is one of the easiest things you can do right now that will cost you little and provide real benefit. For the bigger stuff, get the conversation going internally. Book time with me to discuss at https://calendly.com/ronevans or form up a board committee to help.
Have a great week,