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Nonprofit Employment Surveys FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about the King County Nonprofit Employment Surveys

What surveys are being conducted? There are two surveys being launched in the spring of 2021. The Wage and Benefits Survey seeks information about pay levels and benefits offered to employees. Someone who is familiar with employee compensation and benefits at your organization will complete this survey. The Employee Engagement Survey asks staff questions about wages, benefits, and other factors that contribute to job satisfaction. Team members complete this survey on their own.

Why are these surveys being conducted? These surveys are being offered to provide an informational resource to help the nonprofit community better understand the array of influences – including wages – that contribute to successful employee recruitment and retention in the nonprofit sector. These surveys will provide nonprofit leadership teams with useful information for attracting talent to the sector, and for addressing issues of staff turnover which can negatively impact program results and cause stress for individuals served by an organization.

Why now? Funding for these surveys was included in the Implementation Plan for the 2018-2023 King County Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy (VSHSL), as a way to help improve quality and access to services. During community planning sessions for the VSHSL, provider feedback cited wages as having a significant impact on staff retention. Moreover, high rates of staff turnover were identified as a barrier to successful program delivery. The COVID-19 pandemic and heightened awareness of racial injustice has added urgency to the need to find out where we stand as a sector and what concrete actions we should take to build more equitable organizations.

Who is conducting the surveys? The King County Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy (VSHSL) has contracted with 501 Commons to develop and conduct the surveys. 501 Commons is a nonprofit organization that provides expertise through 30+ consulting and capacity building services to Pacific Northwest nonprofits since 1989. Each year, 501 Commons serves more than 1,000 organizations, providing training and leadership development to 1,000 board and staff members. 501 Commons also manages GiveBIG Washington, an annual statewide online fundraising campaign that raised more than $19.2 million for 1,635 participating organizations in 2020. 501 Common’s experience with surveys includes offering a free comprehensive online assessment tool, a deep dive organizational consultative service, and a highly regarded Staff Climate Survey. For the Wage and Benefits survey, 501 Commons is partnering with Nonprofit Compensation Associates, Inc., an independent survey company.

What is VSHSL? The Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy (VSHSL) connects veterans and servicemembers, residents age 55 or older, and resilient communities to affordable housing, employment, behavioral health treatment, and other programs and services that help them, their families, and their caregivers live healthy, productive, and meaningful lives.

What organizations will be surveyed? Participation is open to all King County-based and serving nongovernmental, nonprofit entities with salaried employees. Unpaid volunteers, interns, contractors, and board members are not eligible to participate in the Employee Engagement Survey.

How are the surveys being conducted? Organizations that sign up will be emailed links to the online surveys when they launch. Survey links will also be posted on the 501 Commons website. The Wage and Benefits Survey asks nonprofit leaders to complete questions about pay levels and benefits provided by their organization. The Employee Engagement Survey should be completed by staff and asks questions relating to factors that contribute to their job satisfaction.

How long will it take to complete the surveys? The Employee Engagement Survey should take 15-20 minutes to complete. Completion time for the Wage and Benefits Survey will vary by organization, based on the size and structure of the organization. Generally, we've found that organizations with 1-20 employees can finish in an hour or less, larger organizations need a couple of hours, and very large organizations (45+ employees) should calendar this work over a few days.

What are the benefits to participating organizations? The free survey results will provide you with a better understanding of the influences – including wages – that contribute to dissatisfaction and turnover, which can negatively impact your program results and cause stress for individuals served by an organization. And instead of having to guess what is considered “industry standard” when it comes to pay and benefits, you will have access to data-driven results so you can make fully informed decisions.

When are the surveys being conducted? Both the Wage and Benefits Survey and the Employee Engagement Survey are open. Both surveys will close in late June 2021.

Can we see the surveys in advance? Yes. You can take a look at the Wage and Benefits Survey ahead of time. Nonprofits can receive a copy of the Employee Engagement Survey by sending an email with their nonprofit's contact information to Jenny Lundqvist at jennyl@501commons.org. Please fill out the online surveys when they are released.

How will the information be used? Overall survey results for the nonprofit sector will be presented in the aggregate in a final report anticipated for release by the end of the year and will be made available online on the 501 Commons website as a free informational resource for the nonprofit community.

How will the confidentiality of participating organizations and employees be maintained? Survey responses will be submitted directly to 501 Commons and Nonprofit Compensation Associates, Inc. 501 Commons and Nonprofit Compensation Associates, Inc. will not share individual answers with King County or other external parties.

Reports for King County and published reports are aggregates only. Organizations participating in the Wage and Benefits Survey will not be identified in the survey report, and the aggregate Employee Engagement Survey report will not contain any information that can identify participating individuals or the organizations where they work. Employee Engagement Survey reports delivered to individual organizations will be summaries where any information that could identify an individual has been removed, and will only be reported if a minimum of five employees participate.

Will the results be shared publicly/with all participating organizations? The overall results for the nonprofit sector will be presented in the aggregate in a final report anticipated for release by the end of 2021 and will be made available on the 501 Commons website as a free informational resource for the nonprofit community.

I am the person at my organization who will complete the Wage and Benefits Survey. What do I need to know to complete this survey? The staff member or members who complete the Wage and Benefits Survey will need to have access to their organization's general employment policies and benefits, as well as current rates of pay for each employee.

The first part of the survey will ask questions about your organization and its employment policies and benefits. Topics include policies concerning salary increases, on-call work and night shifts, introductory periods, and pay for bilingual skills. The survey also asks about employee benefits such as paid time off, insurance, and retirement.

The second part of the survey asks for current pay information for each employee. The person completing this part of the survey will need direct access to the organization's payroll information and knowledge about each job's function. Once you begin responding to the survey, you can stop and go back to it as often as needed. You can also share the link to your survey response with a colleague, so they can complete the survey.

Will we be able to compare nonprofit wages/benefits to for-profit businesses? This project does not collect information about for-profit and government employee compensation. You can access free and paid online databases for for-profit pay information if you want to make this comparison.

How can nonprofit employees participate in the survey? Employees can access the Employee Engagement Survey, including details and instructions for completing the survey, through the online survey link sent to them by their employer or by going directly to the 501 Commons website. To ensure equity and inclusivity, the Employee Engagement Survey will be made available in multiple languages:

  • English
  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Simplified Chinese
  • Korean
  • Russian
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Ukrainian
  • Vietnamese

Survey responses will be submitted directly to 501 Commons. Individual responses will remain confidential and will not be shared with employers or King County.

Will individual organizations receive the results of their employees’ surveys? Providers with five or more employees and at least five participants in the Employee Engagement Survey can receive a survey results summary (with no personal identifiable information) for their organization from 501 Commons when results are available in late 2021. You can sign up to receive this report by filling out this form. Note: the survey will ask for the name of the organization where a respondent works. Staff needs to enter your organization's name to ensure you can get a summary report of your organization’s responses (all answers are completely confidential; individual answers will not be shared).

Can my organization customize the Employee Engagement Survey? We cannot remove questions or modify existing questions. We can add supplemental questions or provide more in-depth analysis to the Employee Engagement Survey for a fee. The cost will depend on the additional support you request. If you are interested, please start a conversation with us by sending an email to Jenny Lundqvist at jenny@501commons.org.

Can you help us use the Engagement Survey to increase employee satisfaction? Before the survey results are released this fall, we will provide executive directors and nonprofit leaders with guidance on responding to the survey results. The specific actions you take will need to fit your organization's culture and structure. However, we can share recommendations we make when we advise organizations on using the survey results. Join our email list to receive timely resources.