Ask The Expert: Nonprofit Accounting

Join us for our next “Ask The Expert” session. These 45-minute, lunchtime sessions will allow our Nonprofit partners to get all the answers on a specific topic/area of need to help make their nonprofit organization stronger!

Please note we will cap these sessions at 30 and it is first come first serve.

Meet Experts:

Ellie Hume is the Director and market leader in charge of YPTC’s New York regional practice and helped establish their NY office in 2012. Ms. Hume has been working with non-profit and governmental organizations to build stronger accounting departments for almost 20 years and enjoys digging in, cleaning things up and finding the most efficient processes to cut down on overhead costs. She takes pride in helping non-profits achieve their missions through better accounting practices.

Ken is the Managing Partner of Cerini & Associates, LLP and is the executive responsible for the administration of our not-for-profit and educational provider practice groups. In addition to his extensive audit experience, Ken has been directly involved in providing consulting services for nonprofits and educational facilities of all sizes throughout New York State in such areas as cost reporting, financial analysis, Medicaid compliance, government audit representation, rate maximization, board training, budgeting and forecasting, and more.

How Total Rewards Reflects An Organization’s Culture

How Total Rewards Reflects An Organization’s Culture

By: Jill Krumholz

There was a time when compensation and benefits were relatively simple and straightforward. Companies provided wages in exchange for employee time and effort, and some sweetened the deal with insurance benefits such as health, life, and long-term disability. Over time, the competition to attract and retain a dedicated, productive workforce has driven employers to rethink the perquisites (perks) they offer.

This reevaluation led many to adopt a Total Rewards strategy, and the changes in workforce management in recent years has made the concept of Total Rewards even more relevant. 

A company’s culture – who it is and its values – plays a significant role in identifying the Total Rewards components that speak to an organization’s workforce and drive success, for both the business and individuals. Creativity is the key to a cutting edge Total Rewards program.

In this article, we will introduce the idea of Total Rewards and discuss how such a focus can shape and reinforce your culture.

Total Rewards is a Holistic Approach to Employee Recognition

Total Rewards takes a broader and more comprehensive view of compensation, extending beyond wages and health insurance, to address all facets of an employee’s life – work-related as well as personal. 

The approach recognizes that employees value more than a paycheck. They appreciate and in many instances expect companies to reward their service in ways that support all aspects of their lives with both direct and indirect compensation. Additionally, more workers are pressing employers to stand up as good corporate citizens and address current challenges facing society. One way many organizations address these concerns is with original Total Rewards designs. 

Distinguishing Direct and Indirect Compensation

Total Rewards programs encompass both direct and indirect forms of compensation. Direct compensation refers to the cash paid to employees for the work they perform. Direct compensation seems straight forward, but there is more to this category than just base pay. Bonuses, commissions, stock options, profit sharing, and other monetary earnings fall into this category. 

Indirect compensation is everything else.This broad concept is limited only by legal parameters, corporate budget, and the levers that drive an organization’s overall compensation strategy. Some standard perks that fall under this umbrella include health insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans (pension and 401(k)), but any non-monetary “extra” conferred is an indirect benefit.

The Flexibility of Indirect Benefits

In recent years, we have seen an explosion in the innovative ways companies attract, retain, and recognize their employees. In the most effective programs, Total Rewards offerings mirror the company’s values, mission, and overall culture. 

A company’s catalog of indirect benefits speaks volumes about who they are, where they are going, and how they want to get there. They inform applicants prior to the interview stage, thus attracting candidates who value the culture and direction of the organization. Once on board, indirect benefits greatly impact employee commitment and morale.  

Examples of indirect benefits that extend beyond paid time off and insurance coverages include:

  • Flexible work schedules 
    • Hybrid
    • Remote
    • Compressed workweeks (i.e., 4-day workweek)
  • Employee assistance programs supporting mental health needs
  • Wellness benefits, such as gym memberships
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Child and elder care 
  • Sabbaticals to pursue work and non-work related interests
  • Student loan repayment

This list could go on and on. Each organization needs to reflect on their unique situation and devise a comprehensive Total Rewards strategy that dovetails with their business goals and the characteristics of their employee population. 

Building a Total Rewards Program Aligned with Your Company Goals, Culture, and Workforce

Whether updating your current program or migrating to a Total Rewards model, how you decide to appreciate and recognize your employees should tie back to your organization’s mission and values – what the company aims to accomplish in the world at large and how it appreciates and recognizes the people who help get it there. 

By reflecting on these big picture themes, companies can then distill those drivers into actionable items. By identifying meaningful formal and informal offerings, employers can craft tangible Total Rewards strategies that support those goals and evidence their corporate cultures. 

Balancing Corporate Interests and Employee Expectations

The better an organization understands who it is (or wants to be) and the traits that make its workforce unique, the more effectively it can integrate that knowledge into a dynamic Total Rewards design. To be successful, Total Rewards components must always align with corporate objectives and budgets, but they must also match the specific makeup of a company’s workforce. 

What motivates manufacturing facility employees may not be successful in an office setting. Similarly, younger workforces may be focused on career pathing, education and development opportunities, wealth accumulation, and childcare alternatives, while seasoned workforces may be looking for assistance with elder care, college preparation for their high school aged children, and retirement planning and transitioning.  

Synergies with Other Human Resources Initiatives

Total Rewards factors into a number of Human Resources policies, with indirect benefits being the backbone of many initiatives. Recruitment, performance management, recognition programs, and diversity, equity and inclusion are only a few of the HR programs that a strong Total Rewards approach enhances. 

Here are some examples where Total Rewards adds value:

  • In addition to a competitive salary and bonus, unique and broader thinking indirect benefits may help with talent recruitment by differentiating your company from the competition
  • Targeted, indirect benefits, such as company cars for field sales representatives, may improve engagement and productivity as part of innovative recognition programs
  • Performance management programs utilizing unique and specific incentives may increase employee productivity and engagement by focusing on what motivates particular groups or individual employees
  • Ensuring equitable distribution and access to benefits reinforces a company’s commitment to value all employees equally and create a welcoming, comfortable, and innovative work environment
  • Flexible work arrangements, such as remote options or work sharing, may result in higher retention and engagement rates

While wages are always the starting point for compensation discussions, today, applicants and employees require broad rewards packages that recognize their financial needs, personal interests, and address important societal issues. This expectation places a value on indirect compensation as never before seen, and it is through an inventive application of indirect compensation that a company’s culture and values can shine through – not only to employees but the greater marketplace. 

If you need assistance reviewing your existing compensation strategy and designing an effective Total Rewards program, we encourage you to contact us at RealHR. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your needs and help you reach your desired goals. 

Healthcare Worker Bonus – The Series

Healthcare Worker Bonus – The Series

If you’re like us, you have certain TV shows that you are totally invested in and can’t wait until the next episode comes out.  Unless you are a masochist, that is probably not the case with respect to the weekly regulation updates coming out from DOH on the Healthcare Worker Bonus (“HWB”).  Even so, this past Wednesday, August 31st, with little fanfare, trailers, or coming attractions, some additional FAQ’s were added to the HWB portal to provide “clarification” on how the program works.  Furthermore, a few adventurous providers did apply for bonuses for the first vesting period, and of course, there were issues in uploading the Excel worksheet.  Also, the format of the portal has changed, the FAQ’s are now in the upper right-hand corner.

New FAQ’s:

The FAQ’s clarified the use of contract workers and their eligibility for the HWB.  Staff placed by a staffing agency at a Qualified Employer are not eligible for the bonus.  The DOH stated that Qualified Employers should submit claims for bonuses only for individuals they employ directly or indirectly on a permanent basis. Contracted temporary staff that are employed or contracted by a staffing agency or other intermediary entity on a temporary basis are not eligible for the HWB program.  Prior FAQ updates had made this clarification blurry by allowing for permanent contracted staff to be eligible.

The FAQs also once again re-iterated the employer eligibility criteria, stating an employer must meet the 4 following criteria:

  1. They are a Medicaid enrolled provider.
  2. They bill for Medicaid services (either through FFS, managed care of a 1915(c) waiver)
  3. Employee at least one eligible employee
  4. Meet one of the three criteria

1. Included in the list of provider and facility types in the statute OR

2. Are subject to a certificate of need (CON) process OR

3. Provider serves at least 20% Medicaid enrollees

The DOH provided some favorable flexibility to staff pushing the $125,000 salary envelope. When you look at employee salary, you should look at both annual base salary and the amount employee made in a vesting period (which are half year). For employers that are submitting claims for more than one vesting period (which would be the case for most submitting in October), employers should determine the wage eligibility across the full year rather than each individual vesting period; this allows an employee that makes more than $62,500 in one period but less than $62,500 in the following to be eligible for bother periods. The example provided is an employee has gross wages of $63,000 in the first vesting period (therefore ineligible) and $60,000 in the second vesting period (for $123,000 total) they would be eligible for both periods. Note the FAQ states this relief is currently available when submitting claims for more than one period at a time, but we would not be surprised if it were expanded in the future. Conversely, if an employee’s annual base salary is over $125,000 for a year, but earn less than $62,500 in a vesting period, they are entitled to a bonus for the period where their salary is below $62,500.

Furthermore, salary, for purposes of the HWB, is not based upon rate of pay, but earnings during a vesting period.  For example, if an hourly employee makes $100 per hour, but only works 20 hours per week, even though the rate of pay annualizes to over $125,000 salary, since they only earned $52,000 for the vesting period, they would be entitled to a $500 bonus for the period (20 hours per week).

As we discussed last week, if an employer has multiple companies that are linked under one MMIS number, the companies are combined for HWB filing.  This means that if an employee moves between linked companies, you would count all of the hours for all of the companies in calculating their bonus and determining if they met the continuous employment test.  These FAQ updates the past 2 weeks have made it much clearer how multiple entity employers should act for this program, so long as the MMIS IDs are linked.

Things we’re seeing:

The regulations require an employee to have continuous employment during the vesting period.  As a result, it is important to look at the date of hire as well as the date of termination to determine eligibility.  We have worked with several providers who hired staff during the vesting period, the employee provided the minimum average of 20 hours per week over a 26-week period but was still ineligible because they did not provide 26 weeks of continuous service.  Note the excel filing asks for the date of hire.

Filing Issues:

Some of the early adopters of the HWB, those brave enough to meet the September 2nd  filing date (don’t forget, the portal will reopen October 1st  for you to submit the first vesting period through October 31st) ran into some filing headaches.  DOH uses a data reader, so when you submit your bonus analysis using the Excel template provided by DOH, you need to make sure that the data is in the exact format required.  Some issues we heard from providers who filed (or tried to):

  1. Make sure that there is no stray information on the spreadsheet. Some providers have reported that the template has pre-populated rows numbering up to 5000 lines.  You need to delete the number in any lines not being used.
  2. The vendor titles work from a drop down menu, make sure you use the drop down and select title (rather than type), because if the titles don’t match, the submission will be rejected.

Finally, following in the footsteps of EI, OPWDD has directed OPWDD funded providers to reach out to the portal with any questions they may have unless they involve getting an SFS number.

So that pretty much wraps things up for this episode and season 1 … and like any good murder mystery series, we are left with a lot of unanswered questions … stay tuned for the trailers (and likely spoilers) over the next few weeks as we head toward the season 2 premiere in October.

Kenneth R. Cerini, CPA, CFP, FABFA

Kenneth R. Cerini, CPA, CFP, FABFA

Managing Partner

Ken is the Managing Partner of Cerini & Associates, LLP and is the executive responsible for the administration of our not-for-profit and educational provider practice groups. In addition to his extensive audit experience, Ken has been directly involved in providing consulting services for nonprofits and educational facilities of all sizes throughout New York State in such areas as cost reporting, financial analysis, Medicaid compliance, government audit representation, rate maximization, board training, budgeting and forecasting, and more.

Edward McWilliams, CPA

Edward McWilliams, CPA


Ed is a Partner in the firm’s tax and business advisory practice focusing on providing services to middle market private companies across different industries as well as to early stage startups. Ed has over a decade of experience providing tax and business consulting services to these companies of different sizes and across different industries, bringing a broad and diverse knowledge base and strategic solutions to the many complex issues that businesses face.

Ask The Expert: HR Recruiting, Solutions, & Compensation

Ask the Expert

Join us for our Next “Ask The Expert.” These 45-minute, lunchtime sessions will allow our Nonprofit partners to get all the answers on a specific topic/area of need to help make their nonprofit organization stronger!

Please note we will cap these sessions at 30 and it is first come first serve.

Meet Experts:
Jill Krumholz
Co-Owner & Managing Partner for Real HR
Jill brings to RealHR experience as a business owner, executive search consultant and corporate HR professional. Throughout her career, she has had the ability to build strong relationships, identify client needs and help companies find solutions. As a search professional she used these strengths to source and identify talent. Today as a Co-Owner & Managing Director with RealHR, she applies these skills within a broader context, leading RealHR’s business development efforts and assessing how to best support clients in meeting their goals. Jill’s mantra for providing value is “finding the client where they are.”

Jennifer C. Loftus
Founding Partner of and National Director for Astron Solutions
Jennifer C. Loftus is a Founding Partner of and National Director for Astron Solutions. Her primary areas of expertise are the design, administration, and analysis of customized market surveys, employee opinion surveys, and exit interview systems. Jennifer also focuses on the development, design, and implementation of base pay compensation systems, primarily as they impact healthcare, non-profit, and small to moderate sized organizations. Jennifer also has extensive experience in the creation of technology-based solutions to human resource issues. Jennifer has 26 years of compensation and Human Resources generalist experience.

Healthcare Worker Bonus Update

Healthcare Worker Bonus Update

For those of you who filed for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan, you remember the early days of the application process were marked by conflicting information, short deadlines, potential exposure, and more.   As time went by, the regulations loosened up and became clearer, which resulted in benefits for those that waited.  Flash forward to now and as Yogi Berra said, “it feels like déjà vu all over again” with the Healthcare Workers’ Bonus program. On Monday, August 29th, additional FAQ’s were posted to the HWB website (the new questions are hi-lighted in yellow).  The key updates are:

  • The DOH clarified the criteria necessary to be a Qualified Employer to be subject to the HWB program. In determining if a program is eligible there are 4 criteria:
    • They are a Medicaid enrolled provider;
    • They bill for Medicaid services (either through fee for service, managed care, or a 1915(c) waiver);
    • Employ at least one eligible employee;
    1. Are included in the list of provider and facility types in the statute, OR
    2. Are subject to a certificate of need (CON) process, OR
    3. The provider serves at least 20% Medicaid enrollees.

The fourth bullet was modified with the insertion of the word “or” between B and C.  The prior NYS Townhall stated that a provider needed to be in the provider/facility list and meet either the CON process or 20%; however the clarification from NYS indicates that a provider only need to meet one of these three criteria.  This may mean that you may now be eligible for the program even if you bill Medicaid less than 20% or you are eligible as long as you bill Medicaid 20% or more (which is the case for most early intervention providers).

  • The DOH had previously stated that overtime pay and bonuses are not included in the calculation of base pay to determine if an employee’s salary is under $125,000 for bonus eligibility.  They have now provided clarification that overtime hours worked should likewise not be included in the calculation of average hours worked for calculation of the applicable bonus amount.
  • For hourly employees an employer should use what they were paid over the vesting period times 2 in calculating an employee’s annualized base salary for eligibility purposes. This is a different calculation than is used for the attestation, which is hourly wage x hours worked * 26 weeks.
  • While overtime and bonuses are not included in gross pay, differentials (and presumably other stipends) would be included as part of an employee’s gross pay to determine if they exceed $125,000 of annual compensation.
  • In order for a qualified “other healthcare support staff” worker to be eligible for a bonus, they must work in a setting where patient care is provided (in essence they need to be program administration not agency administration). Furthermore, the FAQ’s state that an “other healthcare support staff” worker must provide patient-facing care provided within a patient care unit of a hospital or other Article 28 institutional medical setting in support of treating and caring for patients.  Based upon this answer, it implies that mental health clinics like Article 16 and Article 31 providers are not eligible for other healthcare support staff as they are not providing services in a medical setting … as there has been a lot of differentiation within the regulations between Medical and Mental Hygiene.
  • The FAQ’s now make it clear that contracted staff through staffing arrangements (including PEO’s and other 3rd parties) who are engaged in front-line-hands-on healthcare services in eligible employee titles are eligible for the HWB.
  • If multiple employers in a health system have an MMIS ID that is linked, you would look at the linked entities together for determining employee eligibility (hours worked, continuous employment, and salary). If the entities have unlinked MMIS ID’s, then you would not include all employers in determining employer eligibility criteria.
  • A qualified employer who is unable to complete their submission of qualified employees in the HWB portal for Vesting Period 1 by September 2, 2022, can submit for Vesting Period 1 during Vesting Period 2.
  • Employers should make every attempt to submit claims for Vesting Period 1 as soon as employee is eligible;
  • Employers must validate that employee(s) met all other qualifying criteria during the respective vesting period;
  • The HWB Portal will be closed for submissions from September 3, 2022 – September 30, 2022, but Providers may submit for Vesting Period 1 during the Vesting Period 2 Submission period which begins on October 1, 2022, and ends October 31, 2022;
  • An extension to submit for Vesting Period 1 will be limited to only the submission close date for Vesting Period 2 (October 31st).
  • The FAQ’s provide additional clarification as to when a separated employee would be eligible for a bonus with a helpful chart. The clarifications have to do with payment of bonus and separation; in short, an “employer driven” termination post vesting will still require payment however an “employee driven” separation will not require payment.
  • The FAQ’s now include questions with respect to enforcement
    • If a qualified employer fails to identify, claim, or pay a bonus to an eligible employee they are subject to sanction, up to an including exclusion from the Medicaid program and may be subject to penalty. In addition, the employer is still liable to pay the bonus to the employee.
    • Conversely, if an employer erroneously pays a bonus to an ineligible employee, the State can recoup the bonus from the employer who has no recourse against the employee.

In addition, the DOH has added a new slide deck to its website as part of its Town Hall Webinar Series, however, there is no recording posted as of yet to take providers through the slide deck.

Finally, there is also some additional information coming out from other impacted state agencies.

  • BEI sent out an e-mail Monday afternoon letting EI providers know that they should direct any questions they have directly to HWB as BEI will not be able to answer any questions posed to them.

NYSED on Friday sent out an implementation memo.  NYSED has confirmed that 4410 and 853 providers don’t need to complete the survey discussed in the implementation memo unless they receive an e-mail.   In addition, SED has informed the field that the Governor’s Office has confirmed that the list of eligible worker titles on DOH’s website (which can be found here) is final and there will be no additions or changes.  This effectively means that teachers and teacher aides/assistants are not covered under this program.

We expect additional clarification over the next few weeks, and we have posed questions of our own to DOH to gain clarification.  As new information becomes available, we will keep you informed … stay connected!

Kenneth R. Cerini, CPA, CFP, FABFA

Kenneth R. Cerini, CPA, CFP, FABFA

Managing Partner

Ken is the Managing Partner of Cerini & Associates, LLP and is the executive responsible for the administration of our not-for-profit and educational provider practice groups. In addition to his extensive audit experience, Ken has been directly involved in providing consulting services for nonprofits and educational facilities of all sizes throughout New York State in such areas as cost reporting, financial analysis, Medicaid compliance, government audit representation, rate maximization, board training, budgeting and forecasting, and more.

Edward McWilliams, CPA

Edward McWilliams, CPA


Ed is a Partner in the firm’s tax and business advisory practice focusing on providing services to middle market private companies across different industries as well as to early stage startups. Ed has over a decade of experience providing tax and business consulting services to these companies of different sizes and across different industries, bringing a broad and diverse knowledge base and strategic solutions to the many complex issues that businesses face.

Working With a Nonprofit Human Resources Consultant: A Guide

Working With a Nonprofit Human Resources Consultant

Every nonprofit, from large, enterprise-level organizations to small organizations, is powered by an internal team. And to effectively recruit, hire, train, and manage the people who make up that team, you need strong human resources policies and strategies in place.

And on top of providing a great employment experience for your team, a strong nonprofit human resources strategy can also have a ripple effect on your mission and the community you serve. This is because when your organization’s internal team can work together effectively, you’ll be better able to achieve long-term, sustainable success as you fundraise, connect with donors, manage your programming, and more.

However, having an optimized human resources approach is often easier said than done. Nonprofits simply have more unique needs than for-profit organizations when it comes to HR strategy and management. This means that HR professionals at nonprofits must adhere to and balance a number of different factors to make the best decisions for their organizations, such as:

  • State and federal employment laws (no, nonprofits aren’t exempt!)
  • Nonprofit-specific tax, accounting, executive compensation, and employee classification regulations
  • Tight or unpredictable budgets
  • Heavily mission-driven goals

Many organizations look to the guidance of an outside expert when it’s time to build out or refresh their approach to human resources. Even for larger, more established organizations, an outside perspective is almost always the best choice. Hiring and working with a nonprofit human resources consultant, though, can be tricky—especially if you’ve never done it before! In this guide, we’ll walk through all the essentials you’ll need to know to get an effective start:

Are you ready to strengthen your nonprofit from the inside out? Working with a nonprofit HR consultant is a step in the right direction, and with our help, you’ll find the perfect partner in no time at all! Let’s dive right in.

Click through to learn more about Astron Solutions' nonprofit human resources consultants!

Who We Are: Astron Solutions’ Nonprofit HR Consultants

At Astron Solutions, we’ve been providing HR consulting services and talent management software to small and mid-sized organizations since 1999. We understand nonprofits and their needs, and we’re committed to helping you engage and retain your employees while also keeping your bottom line in mind.

Astron Solutions' nonprofit human resources consultants can help your organization streamline its HR strategy!

We provide a variety of services, from total rewards compensation consulting to customized survey creation to help you better understand your employees’ needs. Our team can help you solve even the trickiest of nonprofit HR problems!

Learn more about Astron Solutions’ services and solutions!

Nonprofit Human Resources Consulting: Understanding the Basics

There are plenty of reasons why a nonprofit organization might decide that it’s time to seek outside human resources guidance. Some of the most common reasons include the following:

  • The organization is going through a transitional period. Times of quick growth or leadership changes are typical examples. These periods are great opportunities for organizations to make any important changes or updates to their human resources structures that they might have been putting off.
  • The nonprofit is experiencing retention or recruitment issues. Nonprofits experience these issues like any other type of organization, and HR often represents the first line of defense for combatting turnover and developing stronger, more holistic compensation strategies.
  • The organization simply needs to build out its first set of human resources processes. As mission-driven organizations with fairly tight budgets, growing nonprofits often postpone developing concrete human resources policies, processes, and departments until they’ve been up and running for a while.
  • Outside forces (like a global pandemic or mass social movements) begin to affect the nonprofit’s internal operations and leave them unsure of the next steps. There will always be situations and events that arise which are outside of an organization’s control. Revisiting and improving their current HR strategy is a great way to keep employees engaged and motivated during times of instability.

Of course, the exact reason an organization decides to hire a nonprofit human resources consultant will vary. However, all of the situations listed above have one thing in common: the organizations want or need more stable foundations on which to grow.

Well-developed and properly-scaled human resources programs will strengthen your organization’s ability to grow sustainably. An outside expert is in a great position to help determine which strategies will be most effective in the long run.

This photo shows a nonprofit human resources consultant working with a client to improve their HR strategy.

Nonprofit Human Resources Consultant Services

If you’ve never worked with a consultant before or if you’re trying to build out your organization’s first HR policies, it can be tricky to know what to look for without understanding the field more generally. For some additional context, let’s cover the types of services that nonprofit human resources consultants typically provide.

So, what does an HR consultant do? Their services span a fairly broad range, including the following:

  • Evaluating or auditing your existing human resources structures and policies
  • Retention-focused strategy development to help you retain more of your top talent
  • General compensation consulting and role-specific strategy development
  • Helping nonprofits design incentive and recognition programs to encourage project-specific and long-term employee engagement
  • Employee communication support, including survey design and administration
  • Performance management guidance or training, or management software support
  • Work-from-home program guidelines and support
  • HR support during economic and social challenges

Your organization will likely have one or two specific goals in mind when searching for a human resources consultant. Candidates with general experience in HR consulting might do the trick for more standard projects, but always make sure to ask about their experience as it relates to your particular needs and the current social climate, too.

Remember, a human resources consultant is not an appropriate replacement or filler for a dedicated, in-house HR team. Many consultants don’t offer the types of services that these teams would perform, like payroll administration. However, consultants are strong partners for helping you to develop and train a well-equipped HR team. As you begin to explore potential firms to work with, note each firm’s specializations and how they might help your growing nonprofit.

Check out Astron Solutions’ list of recommended HR consulting firms!

How to Effectively Hire and Work With a Nonprofit Human Resources Consultant

Now that you know what a nonprofit human resources consultant does, you’re likely eager to kickstart the process of partnering with your own consultant. We’ll help you prepare to hire the best possible consultant by walking through the basic hiring steps you’ll need to follow.

These are the basic steps of hiring a nonprofit HR consultant.

1. Examine your goals and needs.

Think about why you need a human resources consultant and what you need or want to accomplish by working with one. Chances are your reasons will fit into one of the general situations listed above, but your exact goals will probably be a bit more varied.

Clearly defining your goals and needs (or at least having a clear sense of what you need to accomplish) will go a long way to both help you find the perfect partner and streamline their job later on.

2. Meet with your nonprofit’s board and outline guidelines.

In order to get started hiring an HR consultant, you need to ensure your leadership is on the same page as the rest of your team. Make sure you discuss the plan with all board members to ensure everyone aligns on the need to hire a consultant and your goals for working with one. This way, there’s no confusion, time wasted, or future pushback. 

When you meet with your board members, this is also a good time to outline some key guidelines to follow in your search for an HR consultant. This should include a general budget or maximum cost you will pay, a target start date for services, and a general timeframe for the entire engagement. With these guidelines laid out, you can approach your initial candidate research more intentionally.

3. Build a hiring team.

Getting multiple perspectives on potential HR consultants will help you find the best fit. Many organizations create hiring teams or committees to focus more directly on this effort. Hiring teams are also useful for delegating tasks, like who should research candidates and who should review proposals.

Your team should consist of leaders in your organization plus any staff members that will be working directly with the consultant, like existing HR staff. If your consultant is helping you build your organization’s first human resources department, the staff member who will lead future HR tasks should be included.

4. Conduct research.

Start searching online for top nonprofit consultants. There are plenty of useful resources out there that explain top consultants and their specialties (like our guide to compensation consultants). Most human resources consultants don’t necessarily specialize in working with nonprofits, so determine in advance if you want a partner with experience primarily in the nonprofit sector.

Don’t forget to reach out to your colleagues and contacts in other organizations, too. If you know another organization that has worked with a nonprofit human resources consultant, ask them about their experience. They’ll most likely have recommendations and insights to share.

5. Draft an RFP.

With your hiring team, work on drafting a request for proposal (RFP) for a human resources consultant. An RFP effectively communicates your organization’s exact HR needs and goals. This way, you can ask each HR consultant candidate for their proposal in an easy-to-digest and fully-standardized format. 

Your RFP will depend on your organization’s unique situation, but there are a few common points that are crucial to include. In order to yield the best results, consider the following elements:

Refer to this RFP template when requesting proposals from nonprofit HR consultants.

RFP Template for Hiring a Nonprofit Consultant

  • Nonprofit Overview: A description of your organization, including your history, mission, and audience
  • Scope of Services: A description of your HR needs, including the specific services you’re looking for and any additional context for your needs
  • Guidelines: The guidelines that you and your nonprofit board laid out earlier in the process, including budget and timeline
  • Expected Outcomes: This should include your general goals and a list of concrete deliverables
  • Additional Questions and Requests: Any other information you’d like to get from the consultant to help you decide if they’re the right fit for your organization

Basically, your RFP is a concise representation of your entire HR needs for all of your consultant candidates. The more focused and direct your RFP is, the better and more useful your proposals will be.

6. Reach out to your top candidates.

Once you and your team have narrowed down a shortlist of candidates, reach out to the top two or three. Start by introducing your organization, requesting more information on their services, and asking for references. If you want a proposal, send out the RFP that you’ve already written. Once the consultants complete and present their proposals, you can begin narrowing down your choices even further. Don’t be afraid to examine consultants’ proposals with a critical eye and ask them to adjust their proposals to better meet your needs.

So, what should you be watching for in these final stages of the hiring process? There are a few key characteristics to look for in any potential nonprofit human resources consultant for your organization. These might be fairly self-evident, but it’s still important that your team is aware of them. A strong proposal from a candidate is great, but unless you can see your team successfully working with them, that partnership might not be the best choice. 

Here are some top characteristics to look for in a potential HR consultant:

  • Experience working on projects similar to your own, and with nonprofits similar to your own, ideally in terms of both mission and size. This helps ensure that the consultant fully understands your particular circumstance and unique pressures.
  • How they describe their methods or general approach when you reach out to discuss their services and your project. As with practically any important project or initiative, a flexible and individualized approach is always more effective than a one-size-fits-all solution.
  • Strong communication efforts. This includes quick responses to your questions and thorough explanations of key concepts. 
  • Respect for your organization’s work and vision. The right consultant will be willing to workshop the ideas they bring to the table so that they align with your specific needs, goals, and vision. You don’t want a “my way or the highway” consultant as a partner!

After screening for these key characteristics, look for positive reviews online, or, better yet, reach out directly to their past clients for references. This is a great way to get a sense of how the consultant works in action. Make sure that the consultant’s work had a lasting impact on the performance of their previous clients’ human resources programs, not just a one-time band-aid-type fix that shortly wore off.

7. Make your pick.

Once you’ve reviewed the proposals that your organization received from candidates and considered each one’s professional characteristics, it’s time to make your pick. Work with your team to settle on your favorite candidate, then notify them of your decision. You’ll most likely then need to finalize their proposed plan, agree on some logistics like pay and the length of the engagement, and sign a contract.

Remember, any consultant should serve as a partner for your organization, not simply an outside expert who’ll come in, fix your problems, and leave. In order to make the most of your engagement, your organization should be prepared with questions and issues to work through, which can help you learn from your consultant’s insights.

Working with a Nonprofit Human Resources Consultant

After you’ve picked your nonprofit HR consultant, it’s time to start working together. However, to go forward, it’s important to first ensure you have a firm understanding of what strong nonprofit HR looks like. This is especially crucial if you’re a smaller organization without a current human resources department or well-defined policies.

Once you have a foundation of what strong nonprofit HR looks like, you can then determine how to best work with your nonprofit HR consultant. To understand both of these processes, begin by reviewing the following HR tips:

  • Take a mission-driven, project-oriented approach. A nonprofit’s priorities are shaped by its overarching mission, but its strategies will vary greatly from one campaign to the next. Nonprofit HR should be guided by the core mission but be able to adapt to changing projects.
  • Make communication a top priority. Clear communication is key for nonprofits. The unique pressures of the nonprofit sector and the campaign-by-campaign approach to fundraising means everyone will perform better when they’re on the same page.
  • Develop strategies for managing unpaid staff. Nonprofits rely on dedicated volunteers for all kinds of essential tasks, and they require clear management in order to effectively support your goals, just like paid staff members do. A well-organized volunteer program will include human resources elements.
  • Take an assertive approach to recruitment. Recruiting top talent is hard work, especially for positions in nonprofit organizations. Don’t be afraid to take a strategic and assertive approach to recruiting new staff members.
  • Try to anticipate changes and hardships. Tight budgets, leadership changes, and shifts in funding sources can all throw a wrench into your organization’s strategies. Human resources should plan ahead by developing executive succession and emergency fundraising plans, for instance.
This image shows a nonprofit human resources consultant leading a meeting with an organization's staff members.

As you examine your own HR goals and needs and prepare to hire a nonprofit human resources consultant, keep these best practices in mind. You and your consultant should be on the same page about how to best prioritize and approach nonprofit human resources tasks and responsibilities.

Now that you have a general feel for what effective HR should look like at your nonprofit, let’s examine how you can get the most value out of working with a nonprofit human resources consultant. Here are some best practices to apply:

These are the best practices you should follow when first working with a nonprofit HR consultant.
  • Take a partnership approach. Make sure your consultants take the time to get to know your organization and genuinely understand your mission and audience. This way, they have all the context they need to finalize their HR strategy recommendations. 
  • Understand all changes. Members of your staff might not be familiar with the full scope of nonprofit HR and its responsibilities, so clearly communicate new developments across your organization.
  • Ask for documentation. When you partner with an HR consultant, you’re working to improve your HR strategy for the present and as your organization grows. Make sure you have everything you need to ensure long-term success before your engagement with the consultant officially ends. Having documentation and training materials from the HR consultant can help you better communicate new processes with the rest of your organization and act as resources if you encounter any new issues.

Partnering with a nonprofit human resources consultant can do great things for your organization, but make sure that your nonprofit is ready to make the most of the engagement. This way, you avoid any confusion or wasted time. Following the best practices above can help keep you on the right track and ensure success for your nonprofit HR strategies.

Working With Astron Solutions

Is your nonprofit looking for a true partner that can assist in fine-tuning its human resources strategy? Astron Solutions is a full-service HR consulting firm that believes in working closely with your organization to create the best plan of action that keeps your team strong and able to move your mission forward.

We offer the following services to our nonprofit clients:

  • General HR consulting for overall strategy and policy development and implementation
  • Total rewards compensation consulting
  • Custom compensation and general HR survey development, administration, and analysis
  • Talent management software

When you work with Astron Solutions, you can rest assured knowing that your HR strategy will be tailor-made just for your nonprofit team.

Get in touch with Astron Solutions today!

Wrapping Up

Strong strategy and management of human resources underpin all successful organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit. With the unique pressures of the nonprofit sector, though, it’s crucially important that these organizations get it right. An expert guide is often the best bet for building out or correcting strong HR policies and structures that will support sustainable growth.

Hiring a nonprofit human resources consultant can be a game changer for the organizations that are ready for their services. Take your time conducting your research, and you’ll be sure to find the perfect partner.

Want to keep exploring the world of HR? Check out these additional resources:

Click through to contact Astron Solutions and begin working with a nonprofit HR consultant!

Nonprofit Human Resources: The Full Guide & Best Practices

Nonprofit Human Resources: The Full Guide & Best Practices

No matter your nonprofit’s specific mission—whether you’re focused on dolphin conservation or empowering refugees to succeed in their new communities—it is people who make your work possible and move your mission forward. Donors, volunteers, and board members are the people you count on to deliver your mission to your beneficiaries.

But then there’s your team of staff members. These individuals not only work for your cause. They also work for your organization, usually from nine to five, five days a week. And as their employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure that their experience in your workplace is a positive one, especially if you want to retain top talent at your organization.

This is where human resources management comes into the picture—yes, even for nonprofits! Incorporating human resources into your internal operations is critical if you want to hire, train, effectively compensate, and retain great employees for your nonprofit—employees who are satisfied with their jobs and contribute to your organization’s goals.

Since nonprofits are funded solely through donations and grants, it can definitely be a challenge for new or growing organizations to find the time or resources to build out a dedicated HR department. However, guidance from an HR expert and concrete policies and protocols can play a major role in ensuring your organization’s continued growth.

In this guide, you’ll get a full overview of the key responsibilities and broader functions of human resources for nonprofits. Here’s what we’ll cover:

We’ll also give you plenty of information about how to get started integrating human resources into your overall organizational strategy. Ready to hone the employment experience your organization offers to its staff? Let’s jump right in!

Nonprofit Human Resources: Frequently Asked Questions

Nonprofit HR is the area of your organization’s internal operations that is responsible for managing your organization’s employer-employee relationships. This usually involves managing things like recruiting, hiring, training, payroll, wellbeing and recognition programs, and exit interviews, as well as the creation and implementation of important workplace policies.

Understanding the basics of human resources will be important as your organization grows. To lay a strong foundation for your understanding of nonprofit HR, let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions.

Do nonprofits need HR?


Why? Nonprofit HR encompasses areas that are both important for developing strong teams and required for compliance with federal, state, and local law.

One huge misconception among the general public is that nonprofit organizations are partially or entirely exempt from employment regulations, but that’s not true.

All organizations with employees (or that employ independent contractors) need to comply with any applicable laws and policies, regardless of the organization’s 501(c)(3) status.

Your team needs to be familiar with the employment landscape in any locations where your nonprofit operates. For information specific to your state, reach out to your state’s Department of Labor office.

Also note that nonprofits are required to withhold state, federal, and local income taxes from employees’ wages. If your nonprofit fails to do so, your board members (who have fiduciary responsibility for your organization) may be held responsible. Check out these resources from the IRS to learn more about employment taxes for nonprofits.

What are the differences between for-profit and nonprofit HR?

While nonprofits and other organizations are held to the same employment regulations, their day-to-day HR functions differ in other ways:

This image lists the unique challenges of nonprofit HR, which are covered in the text below.

-Mission-Driven Nature. Simply put, nonprofit HR is mission-centric, supporting the organization’s ability to pursue its mission effectively. For-profit HR is inherently more profit-centric, supporting the organization’s ability to operate profitably and efficiently. Fostering employee engagement and retention is important for both, but explicitly tying it all together with the driving mission is much more central to the responsibilities of a nonprofit HR team.

-Limited Resources. As mentioned above, many nonprofits aren’t able to dedicate a lot of time, money, and staff power to HR-related tasks. This can leave organizations at risk of failing to meet employee needs and comply with employment regulations.

-Volunteer Management. Managing unpaid team members is an important task that typically falls under the nonprofit HR umbrella. Volunteers are crucial players for nonprofits, so engaging and retaining them can be a significant strategic investment.

-Project-Based Staffing. Nonprofits of all sizes often rely on project- or program-specific grant funding. For-profit organizations generally aren’t as limited in how they allocate and schedule their projects, often wrapping up new initiatives only if they’re unprofitable. This key difference means that nonprofit staffing can be more logistically complex than in a for-profit business.

-Recruitment. Smart recruitment is a challenge for any organization, but nonprofits face a more difficult hiring environment. Tighter nonprofit budgets mean that nonprofits often can’t rely solely on salaries to recruit competitively. Nonprofit HR teams need to take a different approach to compensation to create an attractive, mission-driven workplace.

As corporate social responsibility, or CSR, has become a more prominent element of how for-profit organizations do business over the past decade, some of these distinctions between types of HR have begun to blur slightly. Specifically, more and more businesses prioritize their social missions the same as (or even above) their bottom line, just like nonprofits.

Internet businesses and tech startups are good examples of sectors that have learned from nonprofit HR best practices. Mission statements; diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts; culture-building initiatives; a focus on work/life balance and employee engagement; and increasingly flexible compensation strategies are all common nonprofit approaches that are frequently adopted by for-profit HR teams.

What HR policies should a nonprofit have?

HR policies are the rules and processes set forth by an organization that establish how the organization will manage its employer-employee relationships.

Here are some common examples of must-have HR policies for nonprofits:

-At-will employment
-Employee conduct, attendance, and punctuality
-Anti-harassment and non-discrimination
-Health and safety
-Pay and timekeeping
-Meals and breaks
-Leave and time-off benefits
-Performance management
-Alcohol and drug policy

The beauty of HR policies is that they establish a framework for preventing problems and dealing with any delicate situations that may arise. They also ensure that everyone is treated fairly and knows what is expected of them at work.

Who should be involved in managing nonprofit HR?

Nonprofits that are unable to build out a full HR department or hire an HR manager may rely on an executive director or board member to take on HR responsibilities.

Because these team members may not be familiar with the ins and outs of employment law and tax implications, you should work closely with your lawyer or insurance agent to maintain compliance.

It’s also recommended that you work with an HR consultant that specializes in nonprofits’ needs. A consultant can provide an outside perspective on your organization’s structure and operations that can help you move forward with your HR management efforts in a positive direction.

Understanding these nonprofit human resources basics can help you take a critical look at your own nonprofit’s current HR processes to improve them for the better. To help, we’ll next take a deep dive into the key responsibilities of nonprofit HR!

Key Responsibilities of Nonprofit Human Resources

There are a number of responsibilities that nonprofit human resources professionals typically manage at their organizations. Though HR professionals shoulder the brunt of these responsibilities, everyone at the organization will play a key role in making sure these responsibilities go beyond words in a handbook to real-world policies and procedures that make the nonprofit a great place to work. In practice, this might look like an employee requesting overtime through the right channels or a manager conducting a thorough performance review.

Let’s take a closer look at the responsibilities a nonprofit HR team will typically have on its shoulders:

These are the core tasks and activities of most nonprofit HR departments.

Compensation Strategy

Compensation strategy is an important part of nonprofit HR.

As mentioned above, employee compensation is one of the most important areas of nonprofit HR. With tighter budgets, nonprofit HR needs to take a flexible “Total Rewards” approach to compensation. This encompasses both direct compensation, like salaries, and indirect compensation, like benefits and the quality of your internal culture.

Explore our complete guide to employee compensation for more information. Compensation plays a major role in your organization’s ability to attract, engage, retain, and develop your key talent and team members.

Compensation is a complex topic, and there’s potentially a lot of risk if it’s not handled correctly.  If you’re looking to grow your organization, solve a particular problem, or develop your first concrete compensation strategy, a consultant is your best bet. At Astron Solutions, we specialize in providing HR and total rewards compensation support to small- to medium-sized organizations.

Get more information about Astron Solutions’ compensation consulting services!

Talent Management

Talent management encompasses a number of key nonprofit HR tasks.

Talent management is a fairly broad category that encompasses employee engagement, retention, development, performance management, and more. As an expansive area of nonprofit HR, there are a number of ways that you might handle all or part of your organization’s talent management.

Most organizations today handle their talent management with a mixed solution of in-house staff, software, and consulting as needed.  Check out our complete guide to talent management for more information.

Your own internal HR team, dedicated software to support specific tasks, and overarching strategies developed by a nonprofit HR consultant can be a winning combination of solutions that are sustainable and valuable in the long run.

Compliance & Documentation

Compliance is a critical part of the nonprofit HR department's role.

As mentioned above, compliance is a major responsibility of nonprofit HR, just as it is in for-profit HR departments.

The landscape can be fairly complex, with anti-discrimination regulations, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, social security policies, OSHA requirements, and more all figuring into your requirements as a legally compliant employer. Your HR team will be responsible for maintaining and documenting your organization’s federal, state, and local compliance. 

Again, you can put a lot at risk by attempting to handle all elements of compliance on your own. Working with HR consultants, lawyers, insurance agents, and/or professional-grade online services will be your best bet if you have no experience handling compliance issues for your organization. 

Recruitment & Onboarding

Nonprofit HR professionals also typically handle recruitment and onboarding.

Sometimes lumped into the broader category of talent management, employee recruitment and onboarding is another crucial activity of nonprofit HR professionals. A streamlined, positive recruitment experience, thorough onboarding process, and competitive Total Rewards approach to compensation can make a huge difference for nonprofits that need to hire competitively.

Check out our list of recruitment and retention strategies to learn more.

Organizations have several options for building out or updating their recruitment and onboarding strategies, including working with a consultant or recruitment agency, using online hiring tools and services, and tasking their in-house HR team with refining the recruitment process.

Culture Building

Building your organization's culture is another key task of human resources for nonprofits.

Fostering a collaborative, positive culture in your workplace should be a top priority for any organization, and it can play an important role in making nonprofits more attractive to potential employees. Human resources professionals play a major role in guiding the development of an organization’s internal culture and gauging employee engagement and satisfaction.

As mission-driven organizations, nonprofits can benefit greatly from developing a rich, mission- and teamwork-centric culture, and their HR teams are the professionals who typically guide that process in a number of ways. Designing and implementing an employee recognition program, for example, is an important way that nonprofit HR can help build their organization’s culture. 

In-house HR professionals or nonprofit HR consultants can help evaluate the current state of your culture and develop long-term strategies for strengthening it in the future.

Payroll & Taxes

Managing your organization's payroll and employment taxes is an important part of nonprofit HR.

Handling your nonprofit’s payroll and taxes is one of the most essential responsibilities that your HR team might take on. Ensuring timely payroll and related compliance around employee classification, tax withholdings, insurance coverage, and other benefits is crucial for smooth operations at your nonprofit.

Someone at your organization will also need to be responsible for submitting your annual Form 990 to the IRS

Your organization’s HR team or financial professionals might fully handle payroll and taxes internally, although this can be a logistical challenge for smaller nonprofits. Talent management software and online payroll services are effective alternatives for streamlining and automating your payroll management.

Volunteer Management

Nonprofit HR is also often in charge of managing your volunteer program.

As mentioned above, volunteer management is one of the major differences between the responsibilities of nonprofit and business HR departments. Large nonprofits might have a dedicated individual or team to handle volunteer management and programming, but for small- to mid-size organizations, these responsibilities often fall to human resources.

Strategic and deliberate volunteer management can go a long way to boost your volunteer engagement and retention rates.

There are software solutions designed to support volunteer management and tracking, but it’s best to also have an in-house team member oversee your program.

Getting Started with Nonprofit Human Resources

As discussed with each of the core HR responsibilities described above, there are a number of ways that nonprofits can get started with any one or all of them. For new nonprofits, it can be easy to put off developing HR policies or implementing necessary HR tools until it’s too late, so it’s important to be aware of your options. 

Nonprofit HR support and services typically fall into one of three categories:

This graphic lists the three ways to get started with nonprofit HR, which are covered in detail in the text below.

Your In-House HR Team

Smaller organizations might not have the resources yet to support a dedicated HR professional or team, but that should certainly be a long-term goal, particularly as your nonprofit grows. 

An HR Consultant with Nonprofit Experience

An HR expert can provide your organization with specialized support and a custom strategy perfectly tailored to your needs. Working with an HR consultant can be a smart move for organizations that are building out their first sets of HR policies and procedures or for nonprofits that need support solving specific issues.

If you think working with a consultant might be the best move for your organization, check out our guide to the consultant hiring process. It walks through the reasons why organizations work with HR consultants, what exactly a consultant can do for your organization, and steps for getting started with the research and comparison process.

External HR Services and Tools

Outsourcing most or part of your HR needs to a third-party HR service is an increasingly common option. This category encompasses both full-service remote human resources support and individual web-based tools and services to handle specific needs, like payroll.

Now, you might be wondering: when should a nonprofit outsource its HR?

Outsourcing part of your HR needs is often a good idea for smaller organizations for a few reasons. However, there are always important considerations to make, especially around responsibilities as critical as compliance and payroll. 

Consider these common pros and cons to outsourcing your nonprofit’s HR:

There are some key considerations to make around outsourcing your nonprofit HR tasks.
  • Pros: Outsourcing part of your HR needs to a consultant or service provider can fill gaps in your in-house coverage, make your processes more efficient, improve buy-in from leadership, provide objective opinions, and help you avoid major risks like non-compliance.
  • Cons: Alternately, HR consultation or a third-party service can potentially be quite costly. There’s also always a chance that their strategies will be misaligned with your organization’s goals or that they’ll open you up to new potential risks.

Check out our longer guide to top HR consulting firms and services for an idea of the range of options out there. These top picks are geared towards small businesses, but their tight budgets and small teams mean their needs are relatively similar to those of nonprofits.

Wrapping Up

Incorporating effective human resources tasks into your nonprofit’s operations will allow you to prepare your nonprofit for long-term success. Having a strong, mission-driven team of employees translates to a stronger overall community of support for the cause you’re championing.

In other words, when employees’ needs at work are met and they are satisfied in their jobs, they can better deliver your mission to your beneficiaries, connect with donors, garner support for your work, and more.

Additionally, effective HR processes are essential for your organization to stay compliant with local, state, and federal regulations. Nonprofits are employers, too! And human resources is typically the department that ensures everything people-related can continue operating smoothly, especially when it comes to compliance and payroll.

Your nonprofit needs HR structures in place, regardless of its current size, and your team should know to look for external support when it’s needed. Trying to handle all of your human resources tasks on your own and doing it incorrectly can potentially create huge risks. So, don’t put off getting started!

Want to continue learning about the world of HR? Here’s some recommended reading, hand-selected by the Astron Solutions team:

Click through to learn how Astron Solutions can help your nonprofit manage its human resources.

Top Insights from Real HR’s Educational Panel with NXUnite

Top Insights from Real HR’s Educational Panel with NXUnite

Whether you’re a small nonprofit seeking to find ways to reward employees on a limited budget or a large nonprofit hoping to thank employees through other reward opportunities, your organization can recognize the ways in which employee appreciation is at the heart of human resources and employee management for nonprofits.

In July, Jill Krumholz, Co-Owner and Managing Partner of RealHR Solutions, was joined by Jennifer Loftus at Astron Solutions and Suzanne Smith at Social Impact Architects for NXUnite’s “Employee Appreciation All Year Round: Nonprofit HR Best Practices.” The panelists focused on celebrating employees, volunteers, and board members through acknowledging diversity among employees,  compensating in more ways than one, and understanding the needs of individual employees.

Celebrating Change

As the world evolves, nonprofit employers need to evolve with it. Throughout the panel, Jill emphasized that there is not one nonprofit employee profile– and this fact should be celebrated. “People want to bring their whole selves to work,” Jill said, and HR Departments and employers should recognize the importance of equity and inclusion in order to ensure that employees have their needs met.

As RealHR Solutions writes in their diversity management overview, “Simply put, organizations today have an increased obligation to be socially-conscious [and thus inclusive] employers.” Jill referred to this responsibility, which she feels is becoming more and more prevalent in the modern workplace, as challenging but exciting. Employers should recognize the mutual benefits to both employee and employer of listening to and including employees– in fact, not embracing diversity and inclusivity is one of the top governance mistakes that nonprofit boards make. As Jill made clear in the panel, in order to appreciate employees and make a workplace a space in which employees want to work and stay, diversity and inclusion must be forefront and center. 

Celebrating… but on a limited budget

Many nonprofit organizations are interested in embracing change but are concerned that it is not enough if not backed by financial rewards. So how can nonprofits appreciate their employees/board members/etc. on a limited budget? The answer, our panelists emphasized, is through a variety of non-monetary methods.

The panelists explained to their nonprofit audience that just as there is more than one type of nonprofit employee, there is also more than one type of employee compensation. Jill stressed the need for holistic compensation and suggested that indirect compensation can often be as important as direct compensation. 

Some examples of indirect compensation that Jill gave included newsletters with employee shoutouts, peer-to-peer recognition, and small gift certificates. Jennifer added that a simple way to appreciate employees is through shout-out slides during weekly meeting presentations which recognize the great work that employees have done. Sometimes, something small, such as a trophy that is passed off from one employee to another for a period of time as a form of peer-to-peer recognition, can not only make employees feel recognized but also bring teams together. As Jill noted, employee appreciation can be less about the scale of the compensation itself and more about recognizing what resonates with your individual employees.

Appreciating the individual

As employers seek to recognize their employees through indirect compensation, they should understand that different employees want to be appreciated in different ways. As Suzanne noted, “Culture” in the workplace “is side-to-side, not top-down,” so it might be helpful to create committees that can work to recognize the needs of the group. It also might be useful, she stated, to actually dive into what individual employees’ styles are through personality quizzes, such as the Love Languages Quiz

Some employees might revel in being recognized in front of the whole team — for example, many millennials love receiving feedback and recognition. But other employees might appreciate quieter recognition, such as written feedback or a note of acknowledgment. Overall, employers should seek to understand their employees for who they are and what they truly need.


There are many ways to appreciate employees, and these include diversifying your nonprofit staff, compensating through various means, and acknowledging different recognition styles and tactics when calling out your employees’ hard work. 

Throughout the panel “Employee Appreciation All Year Round,” panelists Jill Krumholz, Jennifer Loftus, and Suzanne Smith provided insights into how to celebrate your employees, not as a homogenous group of workers but as individuals with differing strengths and weaknesses. And, the panelists agreed, it is these differences that allow nonprofit teams to accomplish their missions, as they work together to delegate and communicate every step of the way.

Ask The Expert: Employee Benefits

sk The Expert: Employee Benefits

Join us for our Series “Ask The Expert.” These 45-minute, lunchtime sessions will allow our Nonprofit partners to get all the answers on a specific topic/area of need to help make their nonprofit organization stronger!

Please note we will cap these sessions at 30 and it is first come first serve.

For decades we have been taking an honest an innovative approach to providing winning employee benefit strategies that aid employers with cost efficiency and recruiting. With a focus on education our concepts reduce health insurance and benefit costs while creating strategies that stabilize them permanently. By educating employers one employee at a time our solutions increase ROI and employee satisfaction. Our approach is designed specifically for each of our clients through extensive review of their business goals and a dedication to developing long lasting relationships.