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Nonprofit Employee Retention 101: Beyond Beanbags & Pizza Parties

Nonprofit employee retention

Since the beginning of the pandemic, our society has been experiencing the “Great Resignation” with a record-breaking 47.4 million people in the US voluntarily quitting their jobs in 2021. With employees feeling burnt out and overworked, many are seeking out new roles in hopes of finding better compensation, work-life balance, and career development opportunities. As nonprofit employee retention issues increase, it’s important to determine what steps can be taken to decrease turnover.


Looking for ways to increase your nonprofit’s employee retention? Here are 3 tips for nonprofit employee retention.


1. Offer competitive salary, benefits, and perks

According to a study conducted by Nonprofit HR, 45% of responding nonprofit employees reported they will seek new or different employment within the next five years. In that group, 23% would not pursue work at another nonprofit, of which 49% of them wouldn’t work at a nonprofit as they claim that nonprofits do not pay enough.


It’s no secret that employees want to be adequately compensated for their work and contributions to an organization. With inflation reaching a four-decade high this year, people are chasing more competitive salaries to be able to afford the increasing cost of living.


Another important aspect to consider is pay transparency and salary ranges. Large discrepancies in salary between peers could lead to lower morale and a lack of motivation for the lower-paid employees.


Funding is a potential problem in smaller nonprofit organizations. Instead. you can consider a flexible working arrangement as a perk, rather than a pay increase. People are leaning towards prioritizing work-life balance, with 36% of people preferring a flexible schedule over a pay raise. In addition to that, you can have your employees complete a survey to see what other perks they would value the most.


2. Promote a culture of work-life balance

The pandemic introduced the concept of working from home during the pandemic, which showed the importance of work-life balance and flexible working arrangements. Due to the cultural shift into a more balanced lifestyle, it’s essential to provide employees with ways to maintain work-life balance.


A few ways you can promote work-life balance are by:

  • Providing additional vacation time more than the legal minimum
  • Requiring employees to take a certain amount of uninterrupted time off every year (e.g. at least one consecutive week per year or a “free” company shutdown)
  • Providing paid sick/personal/bereavement leave
  • Encouraging employees to unplug when the workday is over, while discouraging logging on during holidays and weekends
  • Paying overtime if work outside of regular work hours is occasionally required


The goal of every organization is success. But that can’t be achieved without dedicated employees. And you must remember that each employee is a human with an entire life outside of work. They have families, dreams, and goals. As humans, we all need time to recharge and rest to perform at our best.


3. Provide a supportive work environment

By having a safe and supportive work environment with growth opportunities, employees will be incentivized to excel in their jobs. If an employee feels that their work environment is hostile or doesn’t provide many development opportunities, they may begin to feel burnt out and unmotivated.


You can support your employees by:

  • Creating a positive and supportive team culture, where everyone feels included (e.g. team socials, holiday parties, themed days, etc.)
  • Providing your employees with meaningful work and attainable goals
  • Genuinely asking how they are feeling, especially during busy and stressful times
  • Utilizing each employee’s strengths and challenging them, which prevents boredom and demotivation
  • Having career development opportunities that are beyond their current role
  • Creating new positions in a team for more tenured employees and allowing them to be Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
  • Encouraging the use of sick days for a mental wellness day


Considering that 19% of nonprofit employees believe that nonprofits don’t offer great long-term career opportunities, providing growth opportunities can be a great way to keep your employees engaged and working towards a longer-term goal. Having a supportive work environment is an essential factor in nonprofit employee retention.



With the “Great Resignation” affecting all industries, employers should be taking employee satisfaction more seriously than ever. Top talent is hard to find these days, and even harder to keep. The nonprofit sector isn’t immune to this trend, considering they have historically had higher-than-average turnover rates. Before the pandemic in 2019, the nonprofit sector was already facing a voluntary annual turnover rate of 19% compared to the all-industry average of 12%. If these nonprofit employee retention trends continue, it could lead to reduced productivity within organizations due to not having enough essential staff. It’s imperative that nonprofits take action to incorporate ways to increase employee satisfaction before it’s too late.