How Should We Value Time in the Nonprofit Sector? A Response from Greg Gorga

In last week’s newsletter, we posed the question: Should nonprofit employees receive paid time off? This question was sparked by the Santa Barbara Foundation’s announcement that they are closing their offices at 1pm on Fridays until September 7 for their staff to enjoy the summer time.

Given the ongoing discussions within the nonprofit sector about increasing compensation, attracting and keeping valuable staff and otherwise offering benefits to staff, we thought the concept of TIME was worth putting on the table.

We received several responses from the sector, and wanted to feature two. The first, here, is from Jordan Killebrew at the Santa Barbara Foundation. Here, Greg Gorga, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, responds.


Thank you for bringing this topic up, it is a great one. Few of us have enough funding to properly pay staff, but we do have time (just not a lot of free time).

I have not successfully worked out any of the following ideas, but I’ve dabbled into each area:

  • For a short time we took our staff for tours of other museums as a group (I run a local museum). I found these trips to be great learning experiences, both to get to know our community better, and to pick up best practices tips on successfully running a museum. I am not sure my staff got as much out of the experience, but I am ready to re-institute this practice
  • I’ve told staff they can take 2 hours a month, paid, to go volunteer at other organizations. Most nonprofits rely on their volunteers, so why shouldn’t we support that system. At worse you are paying for two hours of non-work that helps benefit our community, but maybe they came back with ideas on how to improve your own organization, or how to collaborate with another organization. I have only had one staff person take advantage of this offer.
  • Many very successful companies give their staff “free time,” up to 20% (or more) of their time can go to any project they want to work on, it doesn’t have to do anything at all with their regular duties. I believe 3M and Google are famous for this. Some of the most successful business ideas (Post-Its perhaps) came out of these free time opportunities. We are so short handed that I have not been able to really try this one, but I would like to make it happen.
  • Once in a great while we have organized trips out to the islands for all staff. These are great learning and bonding opportunities, and it is directly related to our mission.

Not exactly closed door free time, but that is difficult for us to do since we are open to the public most days.

I look forward to hearing from others on this topic.

Greg Gorga
Executive Director
Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

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