Creative Compensation in Attracting Next Level Staff

June 1, 2022

These days, recruiting and retaining next level people on your staff requires more creativity than ever. After over a decade of providing staffing services for the local church, we’ve discovered some “out of the box” ways to recruit your dream staff beyond the predictable compensation plans that are most common to the local church.  

Here are some of the common practices that are both new and old to consider:




  • Fair compensation packages: Do your homework to ensure that your compensation packages are realistic. See national church salary surveys and translate into your immediate context.
  • Signing bonus: In an effort to keep your salary structures and pay grades in line, consider a one-time signing bonus as a tipping point to recruit a highly-desired candidate.
  • Housing bonus / shared equity: In expensive areas where housing prices scare off most viable candidates, a church may offer creative approaches to helping staff own a home. For example, a church may grant the new staff member a $100,000 down payment. The payback amount may be reduced the longer a staff member stays. Otherwise, the entire amount is paid back at the sale of the house.
  • Guaranteed severance: This is mostly offered for executive level staff. For example, the staff member receives a portion of their salary for a designated period of time if they are terminated in the first year or two of employment. Though this amount is negotiated, 50% is a reasonable place to start.
  • Bonus that is received if they stay a certain amount of time: A way to incentivize top-level talent is to offer a bonus after remaining on staff a predetermined period of time. For example, after five years. the staff member may be eligible for a $10,000 bonus.
  • Allowing employees to earn outside income: It is not uncommon for younger, high-capacity leaders to have their “side hustle” already going on when hiring them. Providing them the liberty to earn additional income on the side gives you a huge advantage when recruiting and retaining the best people. Of course, clarity of job expectations and how success is measured becomes paramount in these situations.




  • Moving expenses: Moving costs can get expensive when moving cross-country. Providing a moving allowance (taxable) can be a major help when it comes to sealing the deal.
  • Strong benefits package: Though health insurance is expensive, providing a reasonable health insurance plan for full-time employees is expected.
  • Matching 403b: It is common to provide a matching 403b after a reasonable time of employment, usually one year. Or consider waiving one-year vesting time and begin offering the matching contribution immediately.
  • Education: Reimbursing for existing student loans or paying for a portion of ongoing education is becoming a common offering to millennials.
  • Childcare vouchers: Providing daycare and preschool assistance.
  • Counseling assistance: Providing coverage for a portion of the employee’s counseling. However, it’s always recommended that they have skin in the game financially.
  • Health Club / Fitness membership
  • Tax preparation costs: Offering to pay for an employee’s tax preparation from a top-level professional can equate to thousands of dollars in tax savings over the years.


Soft Incentives:

  • Airline tickets: This can be extremely helpful with staff relocating so they can return home to visit family or provide the means for family to visit them. Ideally, you can source points from people in your church.
  • Entertainment passes: Providing passes to local entertainment parks are extremely valuable, especially to families with children.
  • Solitude days: Granting a day off campus for emotional and spiritual charging either once a month or once a quarter is becoming a common benefit adopted by churches.
  • Sabbatical policy: Consider a sabbatical policy for lead pastors and other top leadership roles.
  • Additional vacation time: Generosity with vacation time for high-level talent is wise. It doesn’t cost you actual dollars. Additional vacation time can come in the form of a bonus.


Seek counsel from a professional tax advisor to verify what benefits and incentives are taxable to the employee. The laws are always changing. Implementing a few of these creative ideas can make a difference in attracting top level talent!


Slingshot Group

We take the guesswork out of nonprofit and church staffing.

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