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How this Mission-Driven Nonprofit Offers Unique Benefits | Colorado Plateau Foundation Case Study

How this Mission-Driven Nonprofit Offers Unique Benefits | Colorado Plateau Foundation Case Study

January 25, 2024

Mission-driven nonprofits like the Colorado Plateau Foundation are important pieces of the mosaic that makes up Northern Arizona’s community. But nonprofits aren’t always easy to operate. Comprehensive group benefits packages can be difficult to manage, but in the end, it’s always worth it.

The Colorado Plateau Foundation believes that enduring, Native-led stewardship can and will transform the Colorado Plateau.  Because Native leaders often do not receive the support that they need to make this happen, the Colorado Plateau Foundation was created to bridge the gap, bringing national philanthropic dollars home to strengthen Native organizations on the Colorado Plateau. 

We spoke with Emily Fredrickson, Operations and Programming Manager, about how benefits have impacted their small but mighty team. Read more to find out how the Colorado Plateau Foundation is able to offer unique benefits like Cultural Leave Days to their primarily Native team.

Let's Get to Know Emily Fredrickson 

What do you do for fun?

Lots of trail running, biking, and baking. 

What about work is fun?

Oh, I love our team. We work for a tiny nonprofit, and we just work with really good people. Really, really the best. I'm kind of like our people manager and our operations person. So my job is to make kind of sure everybody's on track and that they have what they need, and they make my job easy. I'm a people person and just love the team. 

Whether professionally or personally, what is one thing you’re proud of that happened in the last three months?

I just tore my ACL and have reconstructive surgery next week. So that's been like a really crazy thing to navigate.  I'm proud of figuring that out and navigating it.  Part of that has been Veronica [from Benefit & Financial Strategies] helping me make sure that it's covered by insurance and all that kind of stuff. I’ve never had a big health thing like this before and had upgraded my health insurance this year.

What advice would you give yourself at age 18?

I’d say, “Go gentle on yourself.” I expected a lot of myself, which is great, but just be kind to yourself. Especially because your 20s are hard.  

What’s your favorite season in Flag, and why?

I’d have to say summer. All the things I like doing are outside. Probably summer and fall.

Learn More About Colorado Plateau Foundation 

How long have you been in business?

We've been in operation for probably 12 years. But we were fiscally sponsored for a long time. So, probably five years ago, we became a 501(c)(3).

How many employees do you have?

Seven. So we’re small.

How many years have you been able to offer benefits?

I think we've offered benefits for a long time, but we've recently expanded our benefits a lot. So our board of directors, for example, this past year just approved covering more health insurance, so the company pays 75% of our healthcare costs, which is why I was able to upgrade to a gold plan, for example, and good timing! 

What benefits do you currently offer to your employees?

We offer, like I said, 75% of healthcare for the individual. We offer a 401(k). We just started doing that this year. I call Brandi from Benefit & Financial Strategies probably once a week to help us. The 401(k) is pretty complicated. 

And then we also offer short-term disability,  life insurance, and we reimburse phone and internet. We have sick days, and we have Cultural Leave Days. [Cultural Leave Days]  are pretty unique to our organization. Our staff primarily consists of folks that are native to this area. We recognize cultural events are important reasons to take time off work. So we offer special days off for that.  And you know, federal holidays and all that fun stuff.

The Value of Offering Benefits to Your Team

Why is it important to you to be able to offer benefits to your employees?

Because life happens. We've had a lot of staff have health crises, personal crises, and all that in between, and just knowing that you have benefits that you can rely on? I mean, my current health thing is the perfect example. You think everything's going swimmingly until something happens. You don't know if you're gonna get in an accident or have a car crash or whatever it is. 

So, knowing that you have healthcare is great. And the 401K has been huge just because planning for the future is so important, especially in these times that are more uncertain from an economic perspective. So I'm really proud that we're so small, but we're able to offer such robust benefits. I have a lot of friends who work for nonprofits, too. And I really do think that what we offer is great compared to what little organizations are usually able to do.

What does it mean to your employees to have benefits available?

Peace of mind. I think it means a sense of security.  I think that something like benefits may not buy you happiness, but it buys you peace of mind, which is a lot. Especially working for a non-profit where you’re mission-driven, not working for the bottom line. Your priorities are a little bit different, but you still want to be okay and taken care of as an employee.

Our employees work so hard towards our mission and do such incredible work. It means a lot that we can do what we can to take care of a lot of people.

A lot of people have families and other caregiving duties, that kind of thing. So just really means that they can also show up and do the best they can in their job. 

What was the greatest challenge of being able to offer benefits to your team?

Navigating all the legal terms and just being unsure. Especially with, for example, the 401Ks, there's a lot of legal stuff you have to take into consideration, and from a compliance perspective, it's really easy to just get overwhelmed and say, this is too hard to administer. But having Benefits & Financial Strategies just means that you have that added help, that personal touch to make it possible.


What is most rewarding about being able to offer benefits to your team?

I  think it's retention. It means that we get to retain the best talent in this region. And especially, like I said, the mission-driven work that we do is so vital.  I joined two and a half years ago, almost three years ago, and we haven't lost an employee that whole time. Because we treat our people well and we care about them holistically.

What do you love about working with Benefit & Financial Strategies?

No matter how ridiculous the questions I have, they don't make me feel stupid. They always roll with the punches. I know that I've made mistakes and had to navigate some complicated one-off situations. They've been there every step of the process, guiding me through it and helping. 

Written permission from the individual or entity providing the testimonial or endorsement; the client did not receive compensation.