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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Research Friday: Tracking trends in nonprofit benefit practices

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing series, we invite a nonprofit scholar or practitioner to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

As many of you know, we are now officially collecting data for the forthcoming edition of our Nonprofit Compensation and Benefits Report. This will be the ASU Lodestar Center’s fifth such publication; we released the first one (then entitled the “Wage and Salary Report”) back in 2001!

A lot has changed in the nonprofit world in the eleven years since our first report. The recent economic recession has been particularly challenging for nonprofits, bringing a tightening of resources coupled with an elevated need for services. And since nonprofit services are almost always provided and organized by people, these challenges and conditions affect organizations’ human resource practices — sometimes dramatically. So for this report, we’ve expanded our questions on nonprofit benefits practices, including questions asking how nonprofits are responding to various issues.

Click here to fill out our Nonprofit Compensation and Benefits survey!

Health insurance coverage

In our 2010 Nonprofit Compensation and Benefits Report, 94 percent of responding organizations provided health insurance coverage to their full-time employees, paying an average of 94 percent of the premium for employees and 46 percent for family coverage.

This year’s survey has been expanded to included specific questions about the type of insurance offered and the various ways the costs are borne by employees, including premiums, co-pay or deductibles. We also ask what cost containment and other measures organizations have taken to cope with rising insurance costs: are they hiring fewer benefits-eligible staff? Shopping and switching providers? Paying a lower percentage of the premiums, or adding higher co-pays and deductibles? We also ask about the adoption (or not) of a newer cost-saving measure: organizations offering an incentive to employees to opt-out of their organization’s health care insurance plan.

Retirement plans

As of our last survey, the majority of nonprofits provided employees with a retirement vehicle, and the majority of these contributed to it on the employees’ behalf. However, this was far more likely to be the case in larger organizations. This year’s survey asks additional questions about retirement plans, employer contributions, and the types of investment vehicles used. We also ask organizations if they feel their retirement plan helps recruit and retain employees.

Paid time-off

Our study also analyzes paid days off. Over time, the prevalence of organizations providing paid time off as a PTO plan (a number of days off that can be used for any reason) has continued to increase. Our 2010 report found that 27 percent of responding organizations utilized a PTO plan to provide paid time off. PTO plans are interesting, because they give employees the flexibility in the use paid days off, which they generally like, even through PTO plans give employees fewer total paid days off.

These are just a few of the benefits practices and issues we’ll be analyzing and reporting. We need all nonprofits to fill out the survey in order to make the findings robust, accurate, and helpful for everyone.

So if you are a nonprofit organization in Maricopa or Pima county, we encourage you to fill out the survey and contribute your organization’s information. All organizations that participate receive a complimentary copy of the full report. You can find more information about the survey and report, and enter your organization’s data at

Stephanie La Loggia is the Manager of Knowledge Resources for the ASU Lodestar Center. Some of her past research projects include the Nonprofit Compensation & Benefits Report and Arizona Giving & Volunteering publications. Stephanie teaches undergraduate courses in the Nonprofit Leadership and Management program, and she has also been a youth summer camp director for over 20 years.


ASU Lodestar Center Blog