How to Bring a New Hire Onboard in Your Nonprofit - dummies

How to Bring a New Hire Onboard in Your Nonprofit

By Stan Hutton, Frances Phillips

Much hard work is behind you after you’ve made a hiring decision for your nonprofit. But keep in mind that any employee’s first days and months are challenging, and you want to give careful attention to helping your new staff member make a good start.

Confirm employment terms in writing

After a new employee accepts a position orally, send a letter to put the details in writing. Enclose a copy of the personnel policies and place a signature line near the lower-right corner of the letter so the new hire can acknowledge receipt of the letter and the personnel policies. Ask the employee to return a copy of the signed letter, and keep the letter in the employee’s personnel file.

The letter should include the employee’s starting date, job title, and salary as well as other information that you agreed to in the pre-hire discussions held between the organization and the employee. For example, you may include a brief statement about the employee’s responsibilities and agreed-upon work schedule.

Get your new hire started on the job

In the United States, one of the first things a new employee must do is complete a W-4 form (for income tax withholding) and an I-9 form (to show proof of the employee’s legal right to work in the country). These forms are required by law and are available on the IRS website.

You will need to spend some time getting your new hire acclimated to the working environment. New employees don’t begin producing at top form on the first day of work. Absorbing the details of the organization and discovering the ins and outs of new job duties take time. This fact is particularly true when the person hired is the organization’s first employee and has no model to follow.

Whether you’re a board member for an organization that’s hired its first employee, or the director of an organization bringing someone new onto the staff, here are some ways to ease an employee’s transition to a new job:

  • Provide good working conditions. You may think that a reminder to purchase the basic furniture and tools someone needs to perform his work is too basic, but you’d be surprised how often people show up to work without a desk waiting for them.

  • Show the new person around. Provide a tour of the office and programs and introduce him to volunteers and board members. Review office emergency procedures on day one. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to show the new employee where the restroom is!

  • Give the employee information about the organization. Make available the organization’s files and records. Reading board minutes, newsletters, solicitation letters, donor records, and grant proposals will steep him in the organization’s work.

  • Answer questions. Encourage new employees to ask questions, and provide the answers as soon as possible. Particularly if he’s the organization’s one and only employee, board members should check in regularly, making themselves available as resources. Being a one-person staff can be lonely and overwhelming.

  • Offer special training. A new employee may need special training — for example, about a software program or laws and regulations specific to your nonprofit —to perform his job. Sometimes you may have to send the employee to a workshop; other times, he can be trained by a board member, a volunteer, or another staff member.