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The nonprofit project

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

The annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon ranking is almost 17 years old. It’s a unique project in this state, one that not only identifies great places to work, but gives those companies who participate useful, credible information about what their employees think about their workplaces.

But there have never been more than a handful of nonprofits participating. That’s always bothered me because not only are the thousands of nonprofits and not-for-profits providing invaluable services to Oregonians, they also comprise a critical business sector employing many more thousands of people. Nonprofits are the nation’s fourth-largest employer.

We realized nonprofits see themselves as very different from other businesses, but we also believed they had one thing very much in common: caring about their employees. So we decided to develop a groundbreaking workplace best-practices project — a 100 Best project — just for them. We wanted nonprofits to have the insight into their workforce that the corporate world has so readily come to value over the years.

Last year, we enlisted as our partner TACS, a Portland-based nonprofit that also emphasizes best practices in its support and training of nonprofits statewide, to help craft our survey.

We decided early not to restrict the type of nonprofit that could enter. So any organization with more than 10 Oregon employees registered as a nonprofit or not-for-profit in the state was eligible. Those who entered included a wide range of charitable nonprofits that help children, animals, breast cancer victims and many more; business associations; faith-based groups; government entities, and civic organizations.

After that, the project unfolded this spring just like the 100 Best Companies project, with a free anonymous employee survey and an employer benefits survey administered by research partners Davis, Hibbitts and Midghall and our research editor, Brandon Sawyer. As we began to put the word out, we were thrilled to see the enthusiasm for the project.

In the end, we had more than 200 nonprofits qualify and complete the process, a total of 6,700 employees. It’s an impressive launch.

With the debut of the 100 Best Nonprofits, Oregon Business has expanded its 100 Best franchise to three projects. Which brings us full circle to the 100 Best Companies. It’s time to sign up (go to Oregon100Best.com). Entering either the 100 Best Companies or 100 Best Nonprofits survey also qualifies you to be ranked in our 100 Best Green Companies, which we reveal in June.

If you haven’t participated in the 100 Best survey, now’s your chance. The economy may be pummeling your company, but that’s the best time to find out what your employees think, and what you can do to retain your best and brightest.

Robin Doussard
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The list of the 100 Best Non-Profit Companies to Work For in Oregon

Caring mixed with laughter: No. 1 Best Small Nonprofit

Foosball, Focus and Bare Feet: No. 1 Best Medium Nonprofit

A workplace full of hope: No. 1 Best Large Nonprofit

An insider's view on the the Nonprofit Project

A different nonprofit strategy from Small Business columnist, Steve Strauss

How Nonprofits are pulling together to weather the "great recession"


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