When you do a good job, you deserve a reward, right? In a typical corporate scenario, you would get a raise or better benefits or more seniority and responsibility. But in a nonprofit situation, that “easy decision” can lead to some difficult conversations. Ronn Torossian explains how nonprofits can reward their vital employees without damaging their charity PR.
There’s no doubt that, as a charity, you have to be as innovative and circumspect in how you use your resources as possible. Every cent is measured and every expenditure is scrutinized. That’s one reason this kind of work is not for everyone. They tell you to expect to have to do more with less, but you have no way of knowing just how true that can be … until you are in that situation.
So, let’s say you have a handful of truly valuable employees. They are dedicated to the cause, but you know they could get more money in a corporate job. They know it, too. Then someone makes an offer, and the employee, not wanting to leave, brings it to you. What are your options? Do you let them go and hope to replace them, or do you try to find room in the budget to at least give them more than they are getting now?
When it all boils down to money, and that money is coming from the generosity of others who are watching you very closely, what do you do? While the norm for raises in the corporate world might be 3 to 5 percent, even that pittance would be questioned in your position.
But there is another way. If your organization is one that sees peaks and valleys in donations throughout the year, you might want to consider variable pay or “bonuses.” Generally, when your organization just took in a big payday, donors will be more willing to part with extra funds to reward deserving employees. You can choose to distribute these funds immediately, or budget them throughout the year, as a de facto weekly raise.
That way, instead of reporting an across the board raise, you can report a performance bonus for work over and above the call of duty. That’s rewarding generosity with generosity … always a good idea.