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Why People Want to Work for Nonprofits

Work/Life Balance and Employee Benefits Rank High


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Are you looking for a job that promotes work/life balance, that treasures your contribution, and that is all about giving back? Then a nonprofit job might be just right for you.

I went looking for clues to why nonprofit jobs are popular and found them in the 50 Best Nonprofits to Work For, published annually by the NonProfit Times, and Best Nonprofit to Work For Awards, another annual ranking by Opportunity Knocks.

Looking through both lists and the accompanying reports I found some key characteristics of those nonprofits that were highly ranked. I've compiled a list of the qualities that the employees of these nonprofits value about their organizations, and a list of the employee benefits that are cited most often.

Nonprofits Make Work Meaningful and Fun for Their Employees

  • Open and transparent; strong and focused corporate culture.
  • Employees have confidence in the leadership of their organizations.
  • Employees believe that they have enough authority to do their job,s and that they have a stake in their work.
  • Foster a sense of mutual respect.
  • Build a sense of community and family among staff.
  • Help employees experience the joy in helping others.
  • Communicate how each employee's contribution makes the work of the organization possible.
  • Provide opportunities to relax and socialize. Examples include retreats, potluck dinners, recognition awards, holiday parties, athletic tournaments.
  • Make the work environment competitive yet fun.
  • Foster work/family balance and make employees feels cared for.
  • Environment results in employees willing to give extra effort to help the organization succeed.
  • Environment has a distinct personality or spirit that invigorates employees.
  • Encourage new ideas, solicit ideas, reward ideas.
  • An emphasis on learning.

Typical Benefits for Nonprofit Employees

  • A sabbatical system.
  • Dental plans
  • Retirement plans such as 401(k) and 403(b).
  • Tuition reimbursement.
  • Onsite fitness facilities or help with memberships at outside facilities; on site weight loss classes; walking clubs; free blood screenings and flu shots.
  • Healthcare insurance.
  • Life insurance.
  • Flexible scheduling of work hours; opportunities to work from home; carpooling services.
  • Family care time off.
  • In-house hiring and promotions.
  • Short and long-term disability programs.
  • Generous vacation time.
  • Bonuses that can be added to salary or used for professional resources.

Check out the lists of best nonprofits to work for. Some might be in your area. Even if they are not, the attributes that make these nonprofits attractive can serve as a template for evaluating any nonprofit that you might consider as a future employer.


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