Nonprofit organizations may not be able to match the salaries of some big for-profit firms, but they can provide other important benefits to attract and retain young workers.

Community development organization managers shared ideas on how they are competing for young talent at a recent NeighborWorks Training Institute symposium in Cincinnati:

1.Provide professional development: A senior homeownership manager for one of the largest nonprofits in central Ohio stressed that young professionals are looking for opportunities to develop their skills. Nonprofits could establish partnerships with community and four-year colleges that enable professional development budget dollars to go further.

2.Think outside the hiring box: Nonprofits that hire people with talent and potential and that are willing to train new staff for specific jobs will have a better chance at retaining good young people who may not be wedded to a specific skills career path but who are eager to take on new tasks that move the organization forward.

3.Provide access to board members and other senior leadership: Today's young professionals live in an all-access world and expect to have greater access to senior management. By enabling substantive interaction with boards and other senior leadership, nonprofits realize dual benefits: Young staff members obtain a broader look at the organization, and board members and leaders may be infused with new ideas.

4.Stay competitive with salary: While nonprofits will not likely ever be able to compete with the Fortune 500, a reasonably competitive salary combined with other benefits may help nonprofits compete for the best and the brightest—those who just happen to be mission focused, too.

5.Be clear with expectations: Policies need to be clear and aligned with the culture of the organization. One young manager from a New York City nonprofit explained that his organization spent much time discussing whether to include jeans as part of business casual attire. That may seem like a small point, but his point was not that nonprofits should allow jeans but that policies need to be clear.

6.Make work fun: One manager at a nonprofit in central Florida explained that it was the occasional celebrations at her nonprofit, where achievements generated even small parties, that was one of the things that has kept her at her organization for more than 10 years.

NeighborWorks America has a network of about 235 nonprofit community development organizations across the country, which have generated more than $19.5 billion in reinvestment in their communities over the past five years, and is a leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.

For more information about NeighborWorks America and its Training Institute, visit