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Employee Benefits and Compensation

What you pay your staff members is impacted by a complex array of internal and external factors. What is equivalent pay in a similar nonprofit? Are for-profit jobs going to lure away the talent you need on your staff? How do concerns about equity and social justice impact your decisions?

It is important to create compensation policies and procedures that ensure that various employees are treated fairly in your organization. It can be helpful, too, to identify clear pathways for job progression where people can take on more responsibility and improve their pay.

And consider, what does the law require? Make sure you are aware of federal and local minimum wage laws and are following the federal overtime pay requirements. To determine who is eligible for overtime pay, use our tools.

Keeping salaries competitive is a challenge for nonprofits. In general, salary levels are the highest for government employees. Nonprofits employees working in higher education, health care, and research organizations are also at the top of the salary curve. Business salaries come next, with some variation between large and small businesses, and then pay at community-based nonprofits comes in at the bottom.

In order to keep pay equitable between employees, the organization needs to have a compensation approach that is based on market research into comparable salaries. There will always be special conditions that differentiate jobs and job applicants, but you should attempt to keep salaries at a similar level when compared to market averages across all positions. This avoids some unconscious bias risk that causes women to be paid lower for similar positions in the US (and our sector). Bias can be a factor in how older or younger workers, people of color, and immigrants are paid as well.

Salary Surveys

All-sector salary information is fairly available on the web. In many states, there are organizations that survey wages and benefits in that state. Some of these surveys are for all employees and others are specific to the nonprofit sector. Some of the nonprofit-specific surveys cover benefits as well as salary level.

Employee Benefits and Employer Requirements under Health Care Reform

Providing your employees with benefits is important to attracting and retaining good employees, but the array of choices can be dizzying. It is helpful to work with a benefits broker who can explain your options. You pay nothing for their services and they can help choose benefits that balance costs and employee needs. Find recommended brokers in the Northwest on our Consultants & Other Nonprofit Specialists page.

While there are some administrative processes changing about the Affordable Care Act, the law is still in place. A good source of information about the impact of the national Affordable Care Act (ACA) on nonprofits is "What Nonprofits Need to Know about the ACA."

Overtime Compensation

As of January 1, 2020, overtime compensation rule changes have been implemented at the state and federal levels. See our guidance on how to properly pay non-exempt staff when they work more than 40 hours a week.