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Putting People First

Building a stronger nonprofit sector together

The purpose of "Putting People First" is to build a stronger and more effective nonprofit sector – both within and outside King County, WA – so organizations can be better equipped to better serve our communities. This project is a result of a partnership between 501 Commons and the King County Veterans, Seniors & Human Services Levy. We share a common interest in discovering data-driven solutions to chronic under-investment in the people who work in our sector.

Read King County Executive Dow Constantine's letter to get an idea of what "Putting People First" means.

Employee turnover levels in all sectors in our country are at historic highs. The nonprofit sector is ill equipped to deal with the rising salary and benefit expectations of workers. We are, however, well equipped to attract workers looking for jobs that align with their values.  We have the opportunity to come out of this "turnover tsunami" in a better position to help communities recover and to address critical service needs if we can catalyze our partner sectors—business, government, and philanthropy—to help us put people first by investing in improved nonprofit wages and benefits.

Making wage and benefits more transparent & listening to employees

From March to July 2021, 501 Commons administered two ambitious surveys to collect data on wage and compensation practices, employee satisfaction, and the response to COVID.

  • Wage & Benefits Survey Report: A critical challenge facing nonprofit organizations is attracting, recruiting, and retaining well qualified professional and support staff. The purpose of this report is to help our sector offer competitive compensation, attractive benefits packages, and equitable policies. Accurate and comprehensive data on salaries and benefits in the nonprofit field will help organizations evaluate their own compensation and benefits practices and guide these policies moving forward. Visit the online 501 Compensation Tracker to easily compare compensation data from several job titles.
  • Employee Engagement Survey Report: The purpose of the survey is to identify both the wage and non-wage factors that are linked to high employee engagement, attracting and retaining staff, and producing strong client services. The results of this survey, along with the wage survey, can provide King County nonprofits with comparative information.

"Putting People First" is a call-to-action

For funders (including government, foundations, and individual donors), it means supporting the full cost of services provided by nonprofits, including wages and benefits that are comparable to those offered by related fields like government, philanthropy, health care, and education. Contracting for complex human services, housing, and other programs should follow the approaches government uses in procurement of services from businesses where government expects to pay the full cost of the service.
For nonprofit organizations, it means working to generate enough revenue to fairly compensate your hard-working employees and avoid practices that attempt to pay employees the lowest amount possible to conserve program resources. This behavior perpetuates discriminatory pay for people of color, people not born in the U.S., people living with a disability, women, and others.
It is likely that efforts to improve pay are best undertaken in coalition with other nonprofits. Collectively the sector needs to challenge contracting and grant making practices that require employees to be involuntary donors to their organization. Similarly nonprofits need to avoid telling donors that their 100% of their donation will be used for direct services. Program administration and organizational overhead costs are necessary in order to create direct services and the sector should stop hiding that reality.
The goal is that the findings presented in this project will help us build a future where the people who carry out the important work of building and sustaining our communities feel supported and empowered to reach further heights in their nonprofit careers.

Explore King County Nonprofit Salaries

Nonprofits and people looking for a job in the nonprofits can search and compare wage data for 171 nonprofit job titles in King County, WA. The information reflects salary numbers collected from March through July 2021 from 233 responding organizations.

Access compensation data

King County Nonprofit Wage and Benefits Report

The 2021 King County Nonprofit Wage and Benefits Report provides information on more than 10,000 employees in 171 jobs at 233 organizations located in King County or serving King County residents. Download the report today!

Access the report

King County Employee Engagement Report

Read the feedback provided by 1,178 nonprofit employees to questions about their job, supervisor, workplace culture, compensation and more.  While overall job satisfaction was high, there are lots of opportunities to improve job satisfaction, employee well-being and engagement, and human resource practices.

Listen to the voices of workers

Information on Human Resources

Visit our collection of human resources tools and preferred practices to help you develop and engage your team members. Resources include recruiting practices, a COVID-safe work environment, and preventing sexual harassment

Read more

Learning Connections Catalog and Career Resources

Browse our catalog to find leadership programs, nonprofit degree options, training, and other professional development resources across the Pacific Northwest, as well as resources on finding a job, leadership development strategies, and more.

Access leadership resources

Recorded Training Presentations

Want to go further into the results of the two Putting People First surveys? Watch these two webinar presentations led by 501 Commons that dive into the results of the Wage & Benefits Survey Report and the Employee Engagement Survey Report. Thank you King County for hosting!