On today’s podcast, Nancy Long from 501 Commons and Stephen Halasnik from Financing Solutions discuss workplace strategies for nonprofits. There’s a compelling need for the management of nonprofits to take the welfare of their employees seriously for effective service delivery. Many nonprofits fail to progress because of their inability to adopt a formalized system that prioritizes and values the workforce’s needs. Nonprofits should be structured so that they operate like for-profits organizations to attract and retain qualified employees.

Workplace Strategies for Nonprofits

Nonprofits are small businesses by the SBA standard and are the third biggest industry in the United States. As such, owners of nonprofits should put in place the workplace strategies obtainable in businesses for the effective operation of nonprofits. Nonprofits should draw from the labor market, from which government, philanthropy, healthcare, and education draw. Moreso, nonprofits employees are knowledge workers; hence, there’s a compelling need for them to acquire the necessary degrees and advanced degrees that will help them effectively deliver their duties to impact nonprofits’ core values.

There’s a lack of appreciation of the technical expertise and knowledge of nonprofits workers leading to the loss of nonprofits employees and volunteers to government, education, healthcare, philanthropy, businesses, and more. Owners of nonprofits should take workforce development approaches obtainable in other sectors like education, healthcare, and so forth in dealing with their employees in order to motivate and retain their critical workers.

More than 80% of nonprofits workers are volunteers that have zero wages, plus these people are not getting appropriate management of their engagement in the sector leading to low productivity. Management practices in many nonprofits are lagging behind and not adequately developed. And also, a lot of nonprofits workers are not being used to their best capability.  Nonprofits workplace strategies

It’s imperative that owners of nonprofits address these gaps, misguided perceptions, and misconceptions in their operation of nonprofits organization. They should strive to entrench the best management practices and work strategies seen in other sectors to boost the morale of their workforce for effective community service delivery.

Workforce Development

There’s no denying that employees’ training and development programs are the cornerstones of every organization. The goals of every nonprofit should be to provide learning resources that give employees and volunteers the information, skills, and practice to meet the nonprofit’s objectives. Every progressive nonprofit should take its workforce development seriously by ensuring that every worker at least has a foundational skill for their job before expecting to learn more complex tasks. 

The learning strategy would include learning how to optimize their inherent skills and expertise to deliver on the nonprofit’s set goals.

Good Management 

Every nonprofit should have a formalized structure for managing human and material resources for efficient service delivery. In other words, the management of nonprofits should create a conducive and favorable environment in which people can perform and individuals can cooperate toward reaching the nonprofit’s mission. It’s the responsibility of the management of nonprofits to foster an atmosphere where workers would be able to perform their tasks effectively and efficiently by making sure that employees and volunteers remain motivated and incentivized. In addition, nonprofits should formulate rules and regulations that engender effective workplace strategies within the organization. 


Despite that 85% of nonprofits workers are volunteers, nonprofits with employees should have a formalized competitive payment system. In other words, those managing nonprofits should know that they’re competing with for-profit organizations for a talented workforce. Setting the appropriate level of remuneration will make a world of difference in attracting and retaining competent and skilled workers.  

On the other hand, low wages and salaries can cause high turnover leading to a shortage of essential staff.


Nonprofits are faced with several challenges due to people’s misconceptions about how they should operate. The inability of many nonprofits to formalize their mode of operation has negatively affected their operational efficiency. Many nonprofits are beset with high turnover, low motivation among workers, and incompetent employees due to their failure to adopt and adapt the best workplace strategies obtainable elsewhere in the running of nonprofits.

Owners of nonprofits should rethink their management approach by appropriately building the standard workplace strategies and business ethics that foster efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery.

Learn About Our Guest

Nancy Long is the executive director of 501 Commons, a nonprofit that helps other nonprofits. The 501 Commons staff of nearly 50 deliver consulting in management, leadership, technology, human resources, and finance. Prior to 501 commons, Nancy was the VP of Strategy and Organizational Development at Group Health Cooperative and the Director of Quality for the Washington State Hospital Association.

The Host Stephen Halasnik

Stephen Halasnik is the host of the popular, The Nonprofit MBA Podcast. The Nonprofit MBA podcast’s purpose is to help nonprofit leaders and their teams. Stephen is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Financing Solutions, a leading provider of Lines of Credit to nonprofits. Stephen is a best-selling Amazon author and is considered a leading authority on building great, purpose-driven businesses. 

Stephen lives in New Jersey and his top life mission is to raise his two sons, Michael and Maxwell, to be good men