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Nonprofits should rely on benefits over salaries when recruiting

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Every successful nonprofit needs a solid base of full-time staff to support its volunteers and direct the organization’s growth. At its core, a nonprofit is still a business. Although it faces many unique challenges when compared to a for-profit organization, internally the two require very similar roles to ensure day-to-day functionality. The primary difference lies in payroll.

As noted by The Balance Small Business Blog, the IRS has a number of hard limits and guidelines where a nonprofit’s finances are concerned. These include how much employees can be paid. If someone’s salary ends up being too high, the nonprofit can potentially lose its tax-exempt status.

In the absence of offering competitive pay, attracting and retaining the right people ultimately comes down to three things. The first is finding individuals who align with your nonprofit’s mission and values; people with the necessary passion, talent and skills to help you better the world.

Most people choose to work for a nonprofit not to make money, but they want a job that fulfills them, a career that makes them feel like they’re making a real, tangible difference in the world. More than finding people who align with your nonprofit’s goals, you need to make those people feel appreciated. Foster a culture of collaboration that promotes open communication and trust between staff and leadership. Recognize everyone’s contributions to your nonprofit’s cause and provide the necessary training to help people excel.

The third piece is providing the right benefits. In an annual list published by The Nonprofit Times, the world’s top nonprofits all provide competitive benefits to their employees. Generally, these benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Healthcare and dental care
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Health and wellness programs, including weight loss classes, personal training or access to workout equipment
  • Paid sabbaticals for family care, disabilities, sickness, etc.
  • In-house mentoring and advancement opportunities
  • Access to retirement plans
  • Flexible scheduling that includes the ability to work from home
  • Flexible, generous vacation pay

In order to succeed, nonprofits require more than a strong base of dedicated donors and volunteers. They need to hire and retain devoted and passionate full-time staff. Understanding why people choose to work for nonprofits is critical in achieving this. Armed with that understanding, you can cultivate a great internal culture and provide benefits that make your organization compelling for reasons that go far beyond changing the world.

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Non-profits Employee benefits Workplace culture Recruiting Employee retention
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