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Enhancing Your Nonprofit Workforce with Veteran Talent

By April 11, 2024May 20th, 2024No Comments
Veterans talking with a hiring manager in an article about hiring veterans in the nonprofit sector

Your mission-focused organization is able to achieve and exceed goals thanks to the vision and execution of your team. The hard work of your staff and volunteers is the main thing keeping your organization on track, which is why you’re probably focused on maintaining and improving their capacity. Even the most devoted team members may find other opportunities or wish to move on from their role — this kind of churn is inevitable, and it is why the human resources discipline is so focused on recruitment and retention. Being clear-eyed about this inevitability will help you prepare to replace lost productivity.

One of the under-discussed avenues for nonprofit hiring in the United States is the hiring of military veterans. In recent years, veterans have enjoyed lower unemployment than the national average, which shows that organizations in the public and private sectors are utilizing the unique benefits of veteran employment. As a nonprofit, you might be focused on hiring from the nonprofit space and recruiting people already working on the causes your organization is dedicated to. However, there are specific benefits to building a veteran hiring pipeline, including tax benefits, training resources, and easier recruiting. Additionally, veterans have unique skills and experience that can lend themselves well to mission-driven nonprofit work. Here are some of the key benefits of hiring from the veteran labor pool:

Familiarity with mission-driven work

Veterans talking in an article about hiring veterans in the nonprofit sectorThe reasons veterans join the military are as diverse as the veterans themselves, but a few common threads stand out. In addition to the training, job security, and benefits such as the GI Bill, veterans are often motivated by a desire to serve their country and commit to a cause. Years spent in training and in military life can be unconventional and difficult, despite the benefits, and many veterans are highly motivated, determined people, which makes them well-suited to nonprofit work.

As a nonprofit, you may not always be able to offer the strongest compensation or benefits package, but you do provide the opportunity for your team members to feel they are part of an important cause and are continuing and completing a critical mission. The training and experience veterans bring allows them to invest in this opportunity immediately — they’re highly motivated by work that they feel benefits their country and the world. Veterans organizations like The Mission Continues illustrate the dedication of veterans to these sorts of causes even after they have transitioned out of military life.

Tax incentives, training, and other programs

The transition from military to civilian life can be difficult, as the structure and expectations of life change. The federal government, the Department of Defense (DoD), and other government organizations have created numerous programs, tax benefits, and training tools in order to ease this transition and help veterans find gainful employment. As a nonprofit leader, being able to locate and take advantage of these kinds of programs can mean more funding for your mission and projects, as they free up resources you might have spent on recruiting, staff retention, and taxes. Here are some of the key programs:

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)

In an effort to help certain disadvantaged groups find gainful employment, the federal government created the WOTC, which allows you to obtain a tax credit for each disadvantaged person you employ. This list includes veteran employees, who provide a tax credit equal to a certain percentage of their wages. In order to qualify, you will need to apply for the tax credit the day the offer of employment is made to the veteran by submitting Form 8850. Once the application is processed and their veteran status is confirmed, you will submit Form 5884-c (the form for tax-exempt organizations) in order to obtain the credit.

In addition to these credits, you can also receive a credit for hiring veterans who filed for unemployment, which is known as a Short-term Unemployment credit. You can also receive the Wounded Warrior tax credit, which applies when you offer employment to a veteran with a service-connected disability.

Special Employer Incentive Program (SEI)

A program administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the SEI was created to help veterans who are struggling to find employment, particularly those who are looking to obtain on-the-job experience and skills. The program provides guidance, equipment, and housing as needed by the veteran while reimbursing the employer for up to 50% of the wages they pay to the veteran, instruction costs, lost productivity due to training, and other associated costs. This six-month program is intended to allow the veteran to continue their employment once it has elapsed, but at the very least to give them some valuable experience. This can be a valuable opportunity for nonprofits like yours, as you can have the cost of training and wages temporarily subsidized while you bring your new hire up to speed.

Department of Defense SkillBridge

A more involved program, SkillBridge connects veterans to industry partners who have applied and been approved by DoD administrators. If you are interested in your nonprofit developing a stronger pipeline of veteran hires, SkillBridge will bring in opportunities to offer apprenticeships and training to military members who are transitioning into civilian life. Service members who are ending their service can apply to be a part of this program with permission from their commander. It places them with industry partners, finishing out their service by focusing on training in a civilian career.

Although it isn’t an employment program like SEI, it can help put you in stronger contact with the military and veteran community and potentially bring in newly transitioned veterans who seem like a good fit for your team.


For more than 40 years, 501(c) Services has been a leader in offering solutions for unemployment costs, claims management, and HR support to nonprofit organizations. Two of our most popular programs are the 501(c) Agencies Trust and 501(c) HR Services. We understand the importance of compliance and accuracy and are committed to providing our clients with customized plans that fit their needs.

Contact us today to see if your organization could benefit from our services.

Are you already working with us and need assistance with an HR or unemployment issue? Contact us here.

The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice or counsel and has been pulled from multiple sources.

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