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Human Resources Guide for Small Nonprofits:
What Is the Package You Have to Offer?

Let's be frank; the salary you have to offer most likely is not going to catch people's attention. In fact, it may very well make people run screaming in the other direction. So, what else have you got? Think back to your vision, your philosophy. What makes you do the work you do?

Your passion for your organization's cause is probably what brought you there in the first place, so appeal to the passion in others. Offer a compensation package that includes a stake in the action, a real opportunity to make a difference. If the job you're trying to fill is not one that directly connects to your cause (e.g., the receptionist, as compared to your direct service provider), find a way to make that position relevant to your unique mission. The receptionist plays a critical role in the functioning of an office and needs to have a certain skill set, but look closely at where this role in your organization intersects with your cause to find what makes the person in this role special. The fact that he or she will have the opportunity to answer phones and greet people is not going to be as much of a selling point as the fact that he or she will get to interact with important members of the art community, or be responsible for taking care of abuse victims while they wait for appointments.

People who work in non-profit get paid in multiple currencies. Think of all the different currencies you could offer...you might find you have more than you think. Here are some examples:

  • Opportunity to feel important.
  • Opportunity to make a difference.
  • Affiliation with a good cause.
  • Status as community leader.
  • Opportunity to be part of a team.

What else can you offer as compensation or a benefit?

  • Can you allow employees to have flexible hours, e.g., work 7 hours between 7:00am and 7:00pm, instead of 9:00 5:00?
  • Can employees have the option of working at home once a week?
  • Will being a part of your organization connect a person to a larger, or important network?
  • Will working for you provide opportunities to develop a particular marketable skill, e.g., ability to use a special computer program, or administer a specific assessment?
  • Will working for you count toward any kind of certification or educational credit?
  • Do you have a relationship with a school that could provide tuition benefits?
  • Will there be opportunities for employees to travel or attend special conferences?
  • What kind of recognition will employees get for their efforts?
  • Can you offer any special perks? Maybe a board member is a member of a health club and can swing a few free gym passes. Maybe an employee's spouse owns a restaurant in town and lets other employees eat there for free. Maybe someone you know runs a daycare and would offer a special discount for your employees.

Anything's possible!

"When I worked for a New York City-based AIDS fundraising organization, we often coordinated benefits with Broadway performers and Broadway theatres. They knew how hard our staff and volunteers worked, so they sent us unsold tickets on the day of performances for free, and invited us to special premieres. Not only did I enjoy this, but my whole family got to take advantage. Sometimes we went to the theatre every night of the week! Though this was definitely a benefit for us, it also helped the theatres to have a full house on slower nights. Sweet deal, if you ask me. I was really sad to lose this perk when I had to move to another city."

former fundraiser


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