Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Nonprofit Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Andrew Schoeneman


For mission-driven organizations with limited resources to invest in employee salary and development, retaining top talent is a critical challenge. The monetary toll of turnover is particularly harmful to small organizations, which make up 66.3 percent of the nonprofit sector. To keep staff satisfied and incentivized to stay, nonprofits need to innovate creative new strategies to retain employees. The nonprofit sabbatical, a period of rest and renewal given to reward years of service, is one possible solution to reduce burnout and reward longevity. This exploratory study investigated the benefits and challenges of nonprofit sabbaticals in relation to theories of job satisfaction. To gather perspectives on the sabbatical experience, the researcher conducted cross-industry interviews with prior sabbatical recipients, nonprofit human resource practitioners, and direct service nonprofit staff. The research goal was to deepen general understanding of the sabbatical experience, including conditions for and barriers to success. This study reports the findings, compiles recommendations for the best ways to implement sabbaticals in nonprofit organizations, and examines the implications of sabbatical for various stakeholders. It is the hope of the researcher that this study will help nonprofits to consider how the sabbatical reward might motivate overall job satisfaction for employees in mission-driven roles.