Is Your Nonprofit an Excellent Place to Work?
How often do you think about your current job and look back on your nonprofit organizational stops? I suggest you do an analysis on this area, especially if you have many jobs ahead of you. If you spend at least a third of each day at work, I assume you would like to enjoy the daily experience. Many of us simply do not have the time to stop and evaluate our jobs and the organization we work for unless we have some down time to reflect.
I was recently doing research and read an article on the best nonprofits to work for. I immediately scanned the list for an Indiana-based nonprofit, and there were none to be found. Because most of my jobs were based in Indiana, I was surprised at the results of this list.
The data was compiled thorough organizational assessment. Each participating nonprofit completed a questionnaire, along with a confidential survey completed by their employees. The information is then analyzed, and each workplace is ranked. These organizations were further categorized as small, medium and large, based upon number of employees. I did not see an Indiana nonprofit in any of these additional lists.
The article identified the top 10 key drivers for employees across the 50 ranked organizations:
- I feel I am valued in the organization.
- I have confidence in the leadership of this organization.
- I like the type of work that I do.
- Most days, I feel I make progress at work.
- At this organization, employees have fun at work.
- I can trust what this organization tells me.
- Overall, I am satisfied with this organization’s benefit package.
- There is room for me to advance at this organization.
- I like the people I work with at this organization.
- I feel part of a team working toward a shared goal.
Just for fun, I decided to analyze the eight major nonprofits I worked for in my career to date, using the 10 key drivers as my guide. I have worked for four universities, three health-related organizations and one social service organization.
Using the above drivers while looking back at my previous jobs, the following percentage relates to these categories:
- Organizational value: 38 percent
- Confidence in organizational leadership: 38 percent
- Like the type of work: 75 percent
- Made progress at work: 63 percent
- Employees have fun at work: 38 percent
- Totally trust the organization: 75 percent
- Satisfied with benefits package: 63 percent
- Room to advance in organization: 13 percent
- I like the people I work with: 88 percent
- Part of a team pursuing a shared goal: 75 percent
There are a variety of factors and reasons behind my answers such as type of job, experience level when I took the job, complexity of organization, culture of organization, etc. In only one of the eight jobs was I given the opportunity to advance to a higher position. My boss retired and instead of choosing me, they decided to spend $60,000 on a national search. At the end of the search, I was chosen as an internal candidate. I grade hard and because I am a perfectionist, I have very high standards, so my grades tend to probably be lower than others doing the same type of study. I can say my grades were higher for universities than health care institutions because throughout my experience, the culture of the health care institutions was different and less employee-focused. Externally, these organizations said the right things, but internally, it was totally different.
According to The Balance, if you are looking for a job that promotes work/life balance and treasures your contribution, plus is all about giving back, a nonprofit job might be just right for you.
The author noted the best nonprofit employers seek to establish an open and transparent corporate culture; are trustworthy; give employees enough authority to do their jobs; foster a sense of mutual respect; build a sense of community and family among staff; communicate to each employee how important their individual contribution is to the whole organization; provide opportunities to relax and socialize; make the work environment competitive yet fun; encourage work and family balance; appreciate and recognize employees that give extra effort; create a positive work environment; encourage new ideas and reward ideas; and build a culture that emphasizes learning.
In fairness to the organizations that I have worked for, many of these organizations had leadership transition issues at the time of my employment; and leaders only serve for a very short time. In one case, as a vice president, I served five different presidents in eight years. Other organizations encouraged poor silo communications and promoted politics as usual. In some cases, leaders were in place for too long and promoted a status quo attitude. In several stints, my direct report could not adequately manage a staff while being personally responsible for generating revenue.
In summary, ask questions during the interview process and seek to join an organization where you feel it is a fit with your belief system, where you are appreciated and believe you can make a difference. If your nonprofit is truly an excellent place to work, your tenure will be long and rewarding. I hope you are lucky enough to find that organization.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, educator and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 10 years and has had the CFRE designation for the last 26 years. He has also been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for over 35 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division plus Adjunct Professor for Olivet Nazarene University. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.