Employment Practices

Staffing the Nonprofit Workplace: Steer Clear of Pitfalls and Take the High Road

“Employees are our most valuable asset,” may sound like a cliché, but it’s also a true statement. An equally true statement is that employees can be a nonprofit’s most significant liability. Any employer faces potential liability from former or current employees in the normal course of business, but nonprofit employers face increased challenges due to the expectations of fair treatment and of a “social contract” inherent in the public benefit focus of a nonprofit’s mission.

Did you know that employment related claims comprise an estimated 85% of all nonprofit insurance claims filed under Directors’ and Officers’ Liability policies? This statistic, in addition to the consistently high number of employment/discrimination lawsuits filed annually by American workers, creates a very real risk that any nonprofit with employees will face an employment practices lawsuit.

At NRMC we strive to educate nonprofit leaders to adopt thoughtful employment practices that will reduce the likelihood of employment-related claims and lawsuits. We also work to provide nonprofit teams with the support they need to meet or exceed regulatory requirements and federal and state employment laws.

What distinguishes our consulting services from those typically available from a law firm or human resource consultant is a combination of the NRMC team’s extensive experience working with nonprofit leadership teams, and our sensitivity to unique missions and workplace cultures in the nonprofit sector.

We are also available to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of a nonprofit’s employment practices or to assist with the development of specific policies and procedures.

Typical employment-focused consulting engagements include:

  • Support and guidance during a period of transition in the senior ranks or reorganization
  • Review, updating or development of employment policies
  • Support and assistance for boards of directors engaged in performance evaluation and compensation reviews for CEOs
  • Assistance with the development of specific personnel policies
  • Review of recruitment/hiring procedures
  • Support identifying and vetting candidates for a risk professional role
  • Assistance with the development of job descriptions and other screening tools
  • Development or review of employee screening procedures, including disqualifying criteria for background checks
  • Review of discipline and termination procedures

For more information on the Center’s consulting services or to discuss your organization’s employment practices concerns or needs, contact Melanie Herman at (703) 777-3504 or Melanie@nonprofitrisk.org.


Members of our team are experienced in the design and delivery of workshops that are geared to nonprofit audiences and sensitive to the dynamics and challenges of the nonprofit workplace. Training is most effective in person, however, NRMC is often called on to develop online courses and material.

HR workshops presented by NRMC often include easy-to-understand explanations of relevant federal and state-specific employment laws, with special focus on employment issues that regularly ensnare unwary nonprofit managers. Workshops presented recently by NRMC have included the following topics:

  • Managing HR Risk: Taking the High Road
  • Workplace Harassment: An Unacceptable Risk
  • The Frankenstein Effect: How to Properly Classify Employees vs. Volunteers
  • Employment Risks in the Nonprofit Workplace: Hot Topics, Emerging Issues and Proven Strategies
  • ABCs of Background Checks and other Screening Techniques
  • Managing HR Risk and Reward: Do’s, Don’ts and Musts for Your Nonprofit
  • Volunteer and Staff Screening
  • Effective and Legal Employment Practices
  • Hiring Hot Sauce: How to Spice Up Your Hiring Practices and Hire the Best
  • Now or Never: How to Stop Putting Employee Onboarding on the Backburner
  • The Gold Stars of Employee Performance Management
  • Graceful Goodbyes: How to Terminate Employees with Class & Compassion

To inquire about booking one of the Center’s staff as a speaker at your upcoming conference or to discuss your training needs, contact Kay Nakamura at (703) 777-3504 or Kay@nonprofitrisk.org.


Peruse the following free NRMC articles on various employment topics: