Jill Krumholz

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.

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