Free Nonprofit Employee Handbook Templates


Why is this template useful?

This article will provide you with a broad overview of what a nonprofit handbook is, and what are the main components, and share several nonprofit employee handbook templates to help you create your own.

Who is this template for?

This template is for all nonprofit organizations.

What are the main sections covered in this template?

The main sections of the nonprofit employee handbook template include employee benefits and compensation, time off and leave policies, health and safety policies, harassment and discrimination policies, and more.

Any nonprofit organization should inform their staff about key organizational guidelines, rules and policies, and expectations related to their employment. 

A nonprofit employee handbook is the best way to keep your employees informed and to consolidate all your most essential policies, processes, and procedures into one easily accessible document. 

In this article, we will provide you with a broad overview of what a nonprofit employee handbook is, explain what its main components are, and share several nonprofit employee handbook templates to help you create your own. 

Let’s get started!

What Is a Nonprofit Employee Handbook?

A nonprofit employee handbook is a centralized document that includes an organization’s policies, procedures, and regulations governing the nonprofit and its employees. 

An employee handbook, whether developed by a nonprofit organization, public entity, or private corporation, will typically include mission and vision statements, values, key policies, codes of conduct, and processes related to employment. 

While the document is primarily a tool for guiding employees, employee handbooks can oftentimes act as protection for the organization—setting standards and clear expectations for staff and other organizational stakeholders about their behavior. 

For nonprofits, an employee handbook is not just a tool for communication for the organization and its employees; it is also a great resource to utilize when partnering with funders and applying for grants. The employee handbook is a hub of organizational knowledge and language that can be used to develop proposals or find information necessary to complete applications. 

What to Include in a Nonprofit Employee Handbook?

Now you know exactly what a nonprofit employee handbook is. Great! 

Let’s go ahead and take a deeper look at some of the document’s key components. These are elements that should be present in any effective nonprofit employee handbook. 

Mission, Vision, and Values

The first thing you should include in an employee handbook is your organization’s mission statement, vision statement, and guiding values. 

Including your mission and values will help your employees understand what they are working for and their overarching objectives. 

Take a look at the Transgender Law Center’s mission and vision statement for a strong example of how you can craft an engagement statement that can bring people together. 

Introducing your employees to your organization’s guiding or core values will help them better understand what kind of behavior is expected of them, what your highest priorities are, and your strongest beliefs. 

Just getting started and need help developing these fundamental statements? Visit Instrumentl’s blog for a helpful guide on writing a compelling mission statement

Employee Benefits and Compensation

Including information about employee benefits and compensation is a crucial aspect of an employee handbook. 

Information about employee compensation will help set expectations for when employees get paid each month, when they can expect cost of living increases, if and when they receive bonuses or overtime, and other key aspects related to employee pay. 

Information about employee benefits is just as crucial. Benefits are notoriously difficult to understand and without direct or proper guidance employees may not understand what kinds of benefits they are offered and how to take advantage of them. 

Be sure to include information about how to get in touch with HR and who to reach out to help understand and enroll in benefits. 

Employee Conduct and Expectations

Every organization should have a clear set of rules for conduct and expectations for their employees. 

Developing clear policies and expectations around employee behavior will help ensure employees understand how they should treat other staff, how they should engage with participants or patrons, and how they are expected to conduct themselves at specific organization-wide events, the office, or other spaces. 

This can help ensure that your employees’ conduct aligns with your organization’s values and what the consequences are of engaging in behavior or actions that would not align with those values. 

Time Off and Leave Policies

Everyone deserves a vacation or some time for themselves—especially nonprofit workers!

Be sure to include your time off and paid leave policies in your employee manual. This will provide employees with guidance on how to ask for time-off, what kind of pay codes to assign certain types of leave, and what kind of long-term paid leave they are entitled to under the law for sick time or special circumstances such as medical leave, maternity or paternity leave, or disability-related leave. 

Be sure to work with trusted attorneys and experts to ensure your policies adhere to local, state, and federal laws on employee leave

Health and Safety Policies

Health and safety policies should include relevant laws that govern workplaces and ensure worker safety as well as policies that while not governed under the law are best practice and expected of anyone employed by the organization. 

For example, you could include a COVID-19 health or vaccination policy in your employee handbook. Including such policies can help ensure your organization is a safe place for all of your employees. 

Harassment and Discrimination Policies

It is alarming how common harassment and discrimination are in workplaces throughout the United States despite laws and regulations governing against it.

Ensure your employees are protected against workplace harassment and discrimination by educating them on their rights and providing confidential pathways for reporting abusive behavior and clear guidelines on how this type of behavior will be addressed and how investigations are handled. 

Be sure your employees know their rights and that you work with legal experts to make sure your policies follow all relevant laws and regulations

Information on the Complaint and Grievance Process

No workplace is perfect and because of this every organization should have a transparent and simple process wherein employees can file complaints or grievances against their employer. 

Be sure that the process is easy to understand, accessible for all employees, and clearly stated in the employee handbook. 

Information on How to Handle Workplace Injuries

No matter how hard a workplace tries to create a safe environment, accidents can always happen. 

If an employee is injured on the job they need to know how to respond timely and effectively to ensure as little harm as possible is done. Have a chain of command for reporting injuries and directions on how to contact emergency services (if needed). 

It is also important to make certain that employees are also aware of time off that is allotted for an injury sustained on the job. Be sure your employees know their rights and that you work with experts to make sure your policies follow all relevant laws and regulations. 

Information on Whistleblower Protection

All employees should have a safe and simple way to report malfeasance—illegal or harmful behavior being perpetuated in the workplace—especially at management or leadership levels. 

Many organizations work with third party whistleblower hotlines where employees can report issues confidentially. 

Free Nonprofit Employee Handbook Templates

Now that you have a good grasp of the basic elements of a nonprofit employee handbook and what is included in it, you might be wondering how to get started. 

Below are two nonprofit employee handbook examples and nonprofit employee handbook templates to help your organization get a head start. 

The Essential Nonprofit Employee Handbook has everything you could possibly imagine your nonprofit’s employee handbook might need. Provided by nonprofitHR, this nonprofit employee handbook template includes helpful guides for each section and explanations as to why each section is important. 

This template will help set a solid foundation for the development of your organization’s own employee handbook. 

Sample Employee Handbook from 501commons is downloadable and a helpful guide for developing your own internal policies and processes. 

The boilerplate language is very structured and can be a good guide, but we would not recommend simply dropping your organization’s name in the blank sections indicated. Always make sure you work with trusted attorneys and legal experts when you are developing policies and regulations that your employees must adhere by. 

Use these great templates and examples to kick start the development of your own nonprofit employee handbook! 

Best Practices for Creating and Implementing a Nonprofit Employee Handbook

It is clear that a nonprofit employee handbook is a crucial tool for developing a safe, healthy, and happy work environment for your organization’s employees. 

Be sure to note these tips and best practices for creating an effective nonprofit employee handbook. 

  • DO make sure all your employees receive and have access to the handbook: Typically an employee handbook is handed out to each and every employee on their first day along with other relevant documentation. Even so, the employee handbook should be accessible by all staff in another location, such as an online employee interface or shared drive. This way employees can reference the organization’s policies at any time. 
  • DON’T use too much jargon or inaccessible language: While much of the employee handbook should include relevant laws and regulations so employees have access to them and are aware of them, an effective employee handbook will explain policies and procedures in plain language so all of their staff can understand them.
  • DO include relevant resources: Do not assume that everything that an employee needs addressed will be included in your handbook. Employees should have the option to reach out to someone at the organization and at organizations you partner with (such as an insurance provider or retirement plan manager) so they can ask specific questions and learn more about their roles, benefits, and the place they work at. 
  • DO update the handbook as needed: The employee handbook should be a living document. As laws or regulations change, be sure to update the handbook to reflect this. If you make changes at your organization that impact policies or processes be sure to make updates to these too. When updates or edits are made make sure to inform employees right away and send out the updated copy of the document so they can review the changes. 

Wrapping Up: Next Steps

A nonprofit employee handbook is a crucial document that every nonprofit organization should have. Take the resources, tools, and free nonprofit employee handbook templates available in this article and apply them to create your own nonprofit employee handbook today!

For more helpful nonprofit resources, visit Instrumentl’s blog for guides, templates and helpful how-to articles!

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