How to Legally – and Humanely – Dismiss Nonprofit Employees

How to Legally – and Humanely – Dismiss Nonprofit Employees (downloadable pdf) by Alicia Abell for the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Covers some legal aspects (in easy language), best practices for “doing the deed,” and recommendations to prevent problems.


Dismissing employees can be particularly tough for nonprofit organizations, most of which don’t have human-resources professionals or lawyers on their staffs to guide them. And because charities often pride themselves on maintaining an employee-friendly work culture, termination can be a guilt-laden process. Perhaps one side effect of this culture is that many nonprofit employees do not feel that their bosses deal effectively with inadequate workers: In a survey of 1,140 nonprofit workers, released last fall by the Brooking Institution, a public-policy think tank in Washington, 44 percent of respondents said their organizations do not do a good job of disciplining poor performers.

But responsible nonprofit managers know that, sometimes, an employee must be fired for the good of the organization. Furthermore, some charities have been forced to lay off employees over the past year because of budget cuts. For those employers faced with the unpleasant task of lowering the boom, here’s a guide to doing it legally — and humanely.

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