MII is committed to a just, humane, and equitable world for all beings. We believe in working hard to accomplish our mission as well as supporting our staff. We are actively creating a workplace where our team members have autonomy and purpose and feel valued.
At MII, we recognize and address common problems that plague nonprofits, publish staff comments about our culture, and are open about areas that need improvement. By sharing this information, we give partners and donors greater insight into how we operate and offer models for other nonprofits to learn from our successes and failures. If our policies resonate with you, please feel free to adapt them to your organization.
Burnout is often a problem in the nonprofit sector: low compensation and high demands result in a 20-40% annual turnover rate. This turnover is not only costly, it also reduces the effectiveness of many organizations. The cost of turnover, depending on the organization, ranges from half a position’s annual salary up to 2x the annual salary (source and source).
Burnout can be caused by a number of issues, including:
Low salaries and an opaque pay structure that does not include avenues for advancement.
Nebulous job descriptions that leave staff anxious and unclear about expectations for their role.
Long hours, high stress, and unreasonable demands with little to no appreciation.
Inability to offer input in the overall direction of the organization, their role in it, and/or internal policies and procedures that affect them.
Turnover itself can lead to an increase in workload for other team members, which in turn leads to even higher levels of stress.
MII’s values and ethics apply equally to our mission and to the people in our organization. We have implemented policies and procedures to help our staff feel valued, have autonomy, and have purpose. We are committed to a more just, humane, and equitable world for all beings.
We recognize that we don’t know everything and we will likely make mistakes. Therefore, we ensure that our staff is involved in creating policies and procedures and feels comfortable and encouraged to question decisions.
Here are some ways that we are committed to our team:
Safe and Inclusive Workspace: Because we are committed to transparency, all of our policies and intentions are explicitly listed in our organization culture documents, including, but not limited to, our Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policy and MII Values, Ethics, Norms, and Code of Conduct. We value Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) and are currently in the process of drafting our statement.
Whistleblowers: MII recognizes the important part Whistleblowers play in our society. Our Whistleblower Policy covers every MII team member: staff, contractors, interns, and volunteers without fear of retribution or retaliation.
Safeguarding: MII is committed to protecting children and at-risk adults. Our Safeguarding Policy instructs our staff, volunteers, interns, and Board of Directors on protecting people from harm and how to respond to instances of abuse.
Team Included in Process: No internal policy or procedure is finalized until the whole team has had the chance to review and make comments/suggestions.
Buy-In: Our staff, contractors, interns, volunteers, and Board of Directors annually review and sign our Values, Ethics, Norms, and Code of Conduct document after revisiting the document to ensure it still reflects us as an organization and individuals as part of the team.
Our Chief Executive Officer is not on the Board of Directors.
Board Members are publicly listed.
Board and Staff Know Each Other: Team members present to the Board at least once a year and the team also has access to the Boards’ contact information in case they need to report an issue.
360 Degree Review of CEO: The Board conducts an annual 360° review of our Chief Executive Officer including a survey of staff. The CEO is unaware when this evaluation takes place and is not involved in the process. The Board of Directors is responsible for engaging with the review and giving feedback to our CEO.
Setting Own Work Hours: We recognize that our staff are people first and foremost. We trust our team to know what they need to do to get their job done. All MII staff are remote and work hours that suit them and their lives best. All team members operate a shareable calendar so we can see when our colleagues are online and so that we can schedule meetings easier.
Deference to Experts: We respect the autonomy and expertise of our team members. We hire experts in each of our positions and then rely upon them for their expertise. Even though the whole team is encouraged to think about and offer opinions on all areas of our work, we give deference to those with expertise.
Job Descriptions Public: All staff and contractors have job descriptions that are stored in our shared drive and can be accessed by everyone on the team.
Pay and Leave
Fair and Equitable Pay: We believe in a fair and equitable pay structure. We want our staff to be able to do all the things they might want to do, even at a nonprofit salary, e.g., buy housing, expand families, and have healthy retirement accounts.
Unlimited PTO: We believe in a true work-life balance. MII operates an unlimited PTO policy, with a minimum of two weeks’ vacation and at least five (5) of those days must be taken consecutively. If any staff member is feeling overwhelmed, they are allowed to take time away from work, and we will work with them to reprioritize to make things more manageable. Supervisors will also raise the issue if they are worried about a team member’s stress levels, personal life issues, etc. to ensure the team knows they must take care of themselves and their loved ones before work.
No Work Expected in Non-Work Hours: We expect staff to set boundaries when they are “out of the office,” at night, on the weekends, and on leave. We also recognize that our staff has different work hours as we are located all over the world and we are accommodating of time zones.
Paid Holidays: We offer a minimum of 11 paid company holidays per year for both employees and contractors.
Communication With and Within the Team
Focus on Dialogue: The environment at MII is characterized by open and transparent dialogue. We respect others and are dedicated to learning and improvement.
Consistent Feedback: Each team member meets with their supervisor weekly to discuss accomplishments, things to work on, and upcoming goals.
Welcoming Different Perspectives: MII believes that when everyone is welcome to the table and willing to share their experiences and opinions, we are able to accomplish more. We actively encourage everyone, including volunteers and interns, to voice any concerns or comments about anything and everything -- and we truly mean that! (We’ve had volunteers raise points a few times that made a real difference, even though it was something outside their assignment.)
Raising Topics for Team Discussion: We have a fortnightly All Team meeting where anyone can add to the agenda, discuss internal and external work, and raise any questions or concerns.
Multiple Avenues for Feedback: Team members can raise issues or concerns anonymously or openly with their supervisor, Human Resources, our CEO, or any of our Board members. We provide all employees, contractors, volunteers, and interns with the contact information for all of our Board members.
Encouraging Learning: Anyone on the team may request training and/or additional assistance with any part of our work, their job, or our systems, either with their name attached or anonymously.
Communication Through Slack: MII uses Slack to exchange work-related information as well as to share fun things like vacation photos, pictures of our pets, and great vegan fashion finds. We get to know each other as individuals, rather than just colleagues.
Reimbursement for Time: We reimburse job candidates for their time in the interview process.
Anonymized Applications: Applications are anonymized by the Human Resources team before review by the hiring lead. Interview candidates are asked to submit their first-round interview via writing to avoid implicit biases, with other accommodations made where needed.
Growth and Development
Training Funds Allotment: Each staff member is currently allocated $200 annually for training, conferences, or other development opportunities. MII will continue to grow this allocation as our budget grows.
Training Requests: Team members may request training or assistance with any of our software systems, our policies, and procedures at MII. They may ask explicitly or they may submit anonymous requests.
Listening to the MII Team
Welcoming Feedback: We take direction from our team -- whether they are former or current members (we’ve even incorporated future team members’ advice!). MII conducts twice annual team satisfaction surveys and everyone is invited to participate: volunteers, interns, contractors, and staff. We take the negative feedback or suggestions for improvement just as seriously as we take the compliments. We see this as one way of making MII better for our future selves and our future team members.
Encouraging Honest Reviews: We also encourage team members to leave honest and authentic reviews, whether good or bad. You can find our Glassdoor reviews here and our profile on Great Nonprofits here. MII believes that nothing can change without it coming to light. We encourage team members to voice their opinions in whichever way(s) they are most comfortable. We strive to be as transparent as possible, including where we can improve. We will never attempt to find out who submits an anonymous review, nor will we respond to reviews to dismiss the reviewers comments.
Recognizing Individuality: During the onboarding process, each team member is asked how they best learn and how they prefer to communicate. We also ask them their preferred name and pronouns as well as to tell us about themselves as human beings (favorite film/book, favorite snack, their superpower, etc.).
What We are Working On
We aren’t perfect. We are always seeking to improve. This is what we are currently working on:
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). We don’t expect DEIB to ever come off this list. We will continue to grow and learn how we can do and be better. We are currently focused on ensuring we have a diverse team, that everyone feels comfortable being their authentic selves, and every team member feels able and supported in voicing their opinions and thoughts.
Increasing pay and benefits for every team member. MII appreciates all the hard work of our team members and we want to ensure their compensation conveys this. We are currently operating on an incredibly tight budget. We have built in steady pay raises and increased benefits as our budget grows and we share this freely with all potential candidates and existing team members.
Transparent and fair compensation policy. MII is in the process of completing salary comps for all roles and structuring a fair and transparent compensation policy. This compensation policy will be made public once completed.
Quarterly check-ins with each team member. MII believes we owe it to our team to ensure the work they do is in line with their job description, allows them to have work-life balance, and that each and every member feels supported in their role and in the organization. Our Human Resources department is in the process of arranging for quarterly check-ins with every team member to discuss any issues with their job, their work, their hours, their work relationships, or any other concern. We aim to have this system in place before the end of 2021.
Areas Where We Improved
We believe in transparency and remembering we aren’t perfect. Here are some areas where we identified an issue and managed to make improvements.
Paying our interns: When we started our intern program in the summer of 2020, we only had the budget for 1.5 FTE so we did not pay our interns. We took on unpaid interns that summer and in every subsequent semester through the summer of 2021. Since we didn’t have the budget to pay them, we offered them significant training, access to our staff, and access to our extended network. We even helped some of them get jobs after graduation. There is significant literature on why having unpaid interns is an equity issue as not everyone is able to afford to work in an unpaid position, even if they are receiving college credits for their work (source and source). After the completion of the summer 2021 intern program, we provided our unpaid summer 2021 interns a very small stipend. We have budgeted to give future interns a more reasonable stipend in our Fall 2021 class.
Anonymized Recruitment: Before we hired our Chief Operations Officer, we asked job applicants to use a written interview to avoid the hiring team’s implicit biases. However, we recognized there was still scope to discriminate when we were reviewing cover letters and resumes in the first instance, based on names, geography, or other information candidates may submit. Now, our COO redacts identifying candidate information before sending applications for review to the relevant hiring department. Only our COO knows the identity of candidates during the review of applications and first interview process, allowing those making the hiring decisions to recruit based solely on experience and other relevant factors.
Team Culture Survey Results
We will publish the results of all of our internal culture surveys, which we conduct twice a year. You can see the summary, results, and raw data from our Summer, 2021 Culture Survey.