Low Cost Benefits for Nonprofit Employees

All nonprofits struggle with providing good benefits to staff without breaking the bank. Here’s a few suggestions that are cheap or free and will make employees feel valued. Pay and insurance benefits are always primary, but that’s not all a nonprofit employee wants, as then they’d go find a corporate job!

Encourage Staff to Learn New Skills

If you are always improving your skills, you will enjoy your job and feel a sense of progress. It doesn’t even have to be skills that directly tie to the job. Bringing in a meditation or yoga teacher decreases stress and increases productivity. First Aid/CPR training benefits everyone. Of course, work based training is also a huge benefit, leadership and supervision are skills that will help them no matter whether they stay at your organization or move on to another position. Find volunteer instructors in your community, or invest in a one-time training.

Bring Your Pet to Work

If all the employees agree, having a dog in the office can be a fantastic health benefit. Pausing for a moment to pet a visiting dog has proven health benefits and relieves stress. If you don’t want to do it all the time, think about having occasional pet days.

Flexible Work Hours

Giving employees a chance to vary their hours is a huge benefit, and one I always emphasized to new hires. There were certain obligations, but generally each employee could schedule their time as long as they maintained their calendar so we when they’d be in the office. Employees could also decide when they needed to work from home or off-site, so they could concentrate on a project away. In addition, this flexible policy meant that on bad weather days, employees could choose whether or not to come in.

Thank You Notes

Thanking employees for all their hard work is an easy, and free way to recognize them, and boost morale. Take time to tell them you noticed what they did and that it mattered. Attach a piece of candy or an apple, and you’ve got a simple gift that anyone will appreciate.

Encourage Healthy Habits

Most nonprofits can’t have a gym on site, but they can offer other healthy options. Is there a bike rack or a place for indoor bike parking at your office? Is there a nice walking path that employees could be encouraged to use for “walking meetings”? Could a space be set aside for meditation? It could also be used as an area for stretching or private meetings. Is there a local massage therapist who would do short chair massages for a reasonable cost?


Regularly bringing in healthy food is expensive, but keep an eye out for good deals. If you are baking something anyway, make a second batch at the same time and take it to the office. A special treat brightens everyone’s day.

Employee Assistance Programs

For a small cost, your organization can sign up for this program so employees can talk to a counselor when they are facing challenges at work or at home. This help can will help them be better employees.

Plants in the Office

Too much stale air? Encourage employees to bring in house plants. Philodendrons and spider plants grow well in fluorescent lighting, and are great for filtering the air for everyone!

Additional Time Off

Make sure employees are using all of their allotted vacation time by setting a clear organizational culture around paid time off and encouraging vacations. You can also surprise employees with paid time off during the year, either as a group or for individual good work. Although the employee will be gone a little more, studies have shown that they will be far more productive when they return. Another idea is a flexible or unlimited time off policy to give employees control over their time. More details here on this huge benefit for morale.

Have Their Back

Finally, the most important benefit doesn’t cost anything. Be a supportive boss and co-worker, and employees will enjoy coming to work every day.

What other inexpensive benefits have you found to be helpful to staff? Let us know in the comments below.

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