Episode 39: Best Nonprofits To Work For 2021
Fresh Research

Even for the Best Nonprofits To Work For, 2020 was a difficult year. The United States Tennis Association Mid-Atlantic Section (USTA MAS) rarely has any voluntary turnover among its 21 employees. But like at many nonprofits, the pandemic forced difficult decisions. The organization laid off about one-third of its staff in July. It was among 10 of the 2021 Best Nonprofits To Work For that reported laying off or furloughing staff last year.

Chief Operating Officer Beth Twomey joins this episode of the Fresh Research podcast to talk about how the organization kept employees engaged, worked through challenges of the past year, and shared some successes. The Herndon, Va.-based USTA MAS ranked No. 1 among small nonprofits and No. 1 overall in the 2021 edition of the Best Nonprofits To Work For.

After months of working through the pandemic, employees received a care package in October from CEO Tara Fitzpatrick-Navarro. It included a personal thank you note as well as a branded mask, Yeti coffee mug, a hooded sweatshirt, T-shirt and tennis ball chocolates. “I can’t tell you what a giggle it brought to everybody,” Twomey said. “It’s a way for staff to know that she’s thinking of them, and that her door is open, and she’s available, and she’s here to make their life a little bit sweeter.”

As part of the Best Nonprofits To Work For process, The NonProfit Times works with Harrisburg, Pa.-based Best Companies Group (BCG). Participating nonprofits go through a battery of surveys, including employees, managers and outside vendors. There are 78 questions within eight categories that make up the Employee Benchmark Report (EBR), which compiles the percentage of responses that were “agree somewhat” and agree strongly.” On average, the 50 Best Nonprofits often score higher among those categories than organizations that don’t make the list.

Overall, Best Nonprofits scored highest relative to their counterparts that didn’t make the list in the categories of Leadership and Planning (+11%), Pay and Benefits (+11%), and Culture and Communications (+10%). Best Nonprofits scored highest in the areas of Work Environment and Overall Engagement, both 95%.