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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

How to avoid turnover as a nonprofit

staff turnover

The nonprofit sector, like other sectors, has been facing high turnover. It is time to consider strategies and innovative ways to recruit good talent and retain qualified staff. High employee turnover is costly to organizations and delays mission advancement as its focus must be filling vacant positions. So, nonprofit leaders must equip themselves with the knowledge and resources that are needed for retention.

For leadership to take proactive measures, the following list is six key
strategies recommendations for consideration and implementation by leadership and management in retaining qualified staff.


Keeping staff engaged in the organization and the mission creates a culture of purpose and meaning, resulting in staff feeling ownership resulting in a continuous involvement in the organization. Creating a culture of purpose and meaning creates a working environment that is passionate and productive internally, which would transfer externally.

Competitive compensation and benefits

Offering competitive salaries could be challenging to smaller organizations due to financial budgets; however, it is important that the compensation offered is fair and aligns with the work being done. Offering competitive compensation and benefits ensures that staff feels valued, decreasing the need to seek other employment opportunities, thus reducing turnover. Again, the importance of employees feeling appreciated for their commitment to the organization through their loyalty will be shown by the employer by how fairly they are compensated for their job.

Professional development

Creating opportunities for employees ensures that they continue to grow by acquiring new skills and feeling appreciated by their employers. Employees who are valued and empowered to continue to grow within the organization are vital for the retention and success of the mission. Organizations could create a mentorship program where qualified staff could shadow senior staff and learn new skills, which would encourage them to pursue the goal of being in a senior position in the future within the organization. By creating such opportunities, the organization demonstrates to the employees that they encourage and support their professional development.


Management should ensure that the organization continuously communicates with its staff. This communication should include its goals and its particular role within the organization. Staff should have a clear understanding of objectives and goals that have been set by management to ensure a mutual understanding of expectations. Organizations could implement conducting retention interviews to ensure that the staff has all the support and resources they need to complete the work that is required to advance the organization’s mission.

In addition, creating communication channels such as internal newsletters
highlighting the work that has been accomplished and upcoming news so there are
updates and important information communicated to all.

Work/Home balance

Management must allow staff to take personal time off to spend time with those close to them. Allowing a work/home balance will enable employees to balance between both and not feel like one is receiving more than the other. Encouraging a culture where an employee’s personal commitments are considered important increases their commitment and makes them feel valued as individuals, not just as employees.


Management can implement recognition through staff award programs, acknowledging staff at staff meetings, and providing continuous professional development and advancement within the organization could be forms of recognition. Staff recognized for their contribution to the organization are less likely to leave, resulting in less turnover.

Once leadership and management understand the reasons behind turnover, they must implement these strategies to retain their most qualified staff.

Carmen Garcia is a 2023 graduate of the Masters of Nonprofit Leadership and Management program at Arizona State University.  She has served in leadership positions across nonprofit organizations in the Los Angeles area for years, and is currently working with the Roland Center.

Image by Lillian Finley

Learn more with our Optimizing Human Resource Strategies in Nonprofits Certificate

The Optimizing Human Resource Strategies in Nonprofits Certificate is for individuals seeking knowledge and skills in nonprofit human resources, volunteer management, change management, and conflict resolution. Through this program you will learn how to recruit, manage, motivate, and reward both staff and volunteers in order to effectively utilize their strengths, effectively lead and champion change within an organization, and develop strategies to overcome internal and external conflict.

Carmen Garcia


ASU Lodestar Center Blog