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The Power of Purpose: The Best Nonprofits to Work For in 2017

These days, more and more companies are putting an emphasis on the social purpose of what they do, providing their employees with reasons to feel inspired by their jobs.

Given how much time we all spend at work, this is a positive trend. But there’s also no question that nonprofits remain the clear leaders when it comes to a dedication to doing good. After all, these are the organizations which are immediately on the ground when a crisis strikes — and which continue to help out, long after the cameras leave.

But even though nonprofits are rich in purpose, their impact is deeper and wider still. While “volunteer” may be the first word to spring to mind when many people think about nonprofits, the truth is that they are also employers, and account for 10.3% of all non-government jobs in the U.S. according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s 11.4 million people working for nonprofits every day — considerably higher than the entire population of New York City.

Whether you’re a volunteer or a paid professional, working for a nonprofit can be highly rewarding. But which of them are giving their employees the very best work experience while empowering them to serve their communities? Our data science team crunched the numbers in Indeed’s 15 million strong reviews database to find out. Let’s take a look at the answers.

Habitat for Humanity leads a diverse group of frontrunners

Different nonprofits enable different people to pursue their own, individual passions for service. However, when it comes to identifying the one that wins the most plaudits from employees, then Habitat for Humanity — dedicated to building, renovating and improving homes for families in need — claims the number 1 spot.

In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, Habitat for Humanity has been quick to step in to prepare for what will inevitably be long periods of recovery and reconstruction. Currently the organization is in the process of assessing the shelter and housing needs in affected areas so it can create construction plans to help families rebuild.

In addition, Habitat for Humanity is also working in Mexico to help families recover from the recent earthquakes. In fact, at any time the organization is active in almost 70 countries, making it at least as “multinational” as many large, for profit organizations.

We also see that nonprofits which provide people with opportunities to help children are highly rated by their staff. Three of the top ten have this focus, with the Boys & Girls Club of America at #3, Boy Scouts of America at #4 and Communities in Schools at #5. Meanwhile, the Girl Scouts of the USA lands just outside the top 10 at #11.

The rest of the list reveals a wide diversity of causes, including making life better for older Americans (AARP – #2), bringing together veterans to serve (The American Legion – #7), youth development, healthy living and developing social responsibility (the YMCA, #6), eliminating racism and empowering women (YWCA – #8), and providing services for those with disabilities (The Easterseals – #10). The Salvation Army, with its broad focus on everything from eliminating hunger to ending domestic abuse places 9th.

In addition, some major players just missed out on the top 10. Besides the Girl Scouts, we see education charity Teach for America placing 12th, followed by the American Red Cross, Planned Parenthood and PRIDE Industries, respectively.

Now let’s take a closer look at what the highest rated nonprofits are doing to keep their workers engaged and motivated.

The best of the best: what they’re doing right

1. Habitat for Humanity

Founded: 1976

HQ: Atlanta, Georgia

Working with more than 1,400 communities around the world, Habitat for Humanity partners with people in need of decent and affordable homes.

In addition to winning the overall top spot, the organization performed well across the board, and also earned the #1 ranking in our individual measures of management and culture. In reviews, employees make note of multiple opportunities to learn, supportive managers and a workplace environment that’s “fun,” yet productive and meaningful — making up for occasional long hours and what one reviewer describes as “a decent amount of red tape.”

“The people you work with all believe in the value of the company,” says one employee. “That is amazing for work morale. You inevitably build friendships, as you work to support a wonderful organization. You have the opportunity to make yourself stand out, as the work environment is more relaxed than with for-profit companies. Ultimately, the work that you do is to help others; your value cannot be understated.”

2. AARP

Founded: 1958

HQ: Washington, D.C.

AARP isn’t just dedicated to making life better for older Americans. With the top ranking for work-life balance among non-profits, the organization is also serious about making life better for its employees.

“They want the staff to be happy and work to promote a positive environment,” says a reviewer. Pay, benefits and a feeling of genuine commitment to the community are cited as positives, offsetting what one employee describes as “limited growth opportunities” in certain departments.

“There is no typical day at work,” says another, adding that “as this is the nonprofit sector you will find people who are really committed to helping people over earning a paycheck, that their career is more important than the compensation for them. These are the people that I feel a bond with, as we help our community and culture to grow socially and economically.”

3. Boys & Girls Club of America

Founded:1906

HQ: Atlanta, Georgia

With a 100 plus year history, the Boys & Girls Club of America helps put young people on track to graduate from high school and reach their full potential.

The organization stands out from other nonprofits with #2 rankings in both management as well as job security and advancement.

Employees cite interesting workdays and friendly coworkers as things that make working for this nonprofit so rewarding. But reviewers are most passionate about the fulfillment they get from working with young people. Perhaps this employee puts it best:

“Each day I have the opportunity to not just affect the lives of the students that I work with, but the lives of their family and possibly their descendants. I take this responsibility seriously and hold it with great pride.”

4. Boy Scouts of America

Founded: 1910

HQ: Irving, Texas

Dedicated to building character in future leaders, the Boy Scouts of America earned the #1 ranking for job security and advancement opportunities and the #2 spot for company culture.

Whether employees are working from a desk or leading hikes through the woods, they praise the day-to-day variety of their jobs:

“Every day, every week is something new and different,” says one reviewer. “I enjoy sharing my knowledge, excitement, and passion with the youth of the program. To see them grow and make a change in their community is what makes working here worth it.”

Some reviewers point to an at times challenging work-life balance that results from long hours and moderate pay, but they also feel that these sacrifices are worth it.

“Working with truly dedicated professionals and terrific, enthusiastic lifelong volunteers largely makes up for the life-work balance,” one employee says.

5. Communities in Schools

Founded: 1977

HQ: Arlington, Virginia

Communities in Schools brings resources into schools to help at-risk students stay enrolled. Reviewers say this type of work can come with a good deal of stress, but, says one employee, “management understands the hardships of working with at-risk populations, and encourages self-care as much as quality services.”

And while one employee notes that the pay can be low (as with many nonprofits), the benefits, job autonomy and satisfying nature of the work means that “there is no place I would rather be.” Adds another:

“Working one-on-one and building these trusting relationships is what makes this job incredibly worth it. These students love, trust and enjoy CIS and what it offers! They look for the support, they look for the encouragement but mostly they look for someone away from home, whom they can turn to, love and speak to on a personal trusting level.”

For a deeper dive into employee reviews, salaries and job openings at the best nonprofits in the USA, click the banner below.

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Methodology: Indeed has over 15 million company reviews on workplaces around the world. The companies on this list are the most highly rated on overall employee experience (criteria includes: compensation/benefits, work/life balance, job security/advancement, management, and culture) with at least 50 reviews from August 2015 – July 2017.

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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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