Freedom House
3.1 of 5 31 reviews
www.freedomhouse.org Washington, DC

Freedom House Reviews

Updated Apr 7, 2014

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3.1 31 reviews

                             

59% Approve of the CEO

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David J. Kramer

(17 ratings)

59% of employees recommend this company to a friend
31 Employee Reviews
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Intern

Intern (Former Employee)
Washington, DC

I worked at Freedom House as an intern for less than a year

ProsDiverse group of intelligent and talented people, horizontal approach to management - even interns interact with senior staff and are encouraged to give opinions, learn hands-on, and try new things. It is a great, open-minded environment to get some practical experience in the non-profit world, take on responsibility and really learn a lot doing good in the world. Also, many of their internships are paid, which is rare in D.C. Couldn't have had a better intern experience!

ConsLike many similar organizations, there is a very high turnover as funding fluctuates wildly. This can create a chaotic environment. Even fully-staffed, it seems like the work is never-ending.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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It was a great place to work. Freedom House is a friendly and interactive working place.

Finance Intern (Former Employee)
Washington, DC

I worked at Freedom House as an intern for less than a year

ProsThis is a great place to work. very nice and friendly people. you'll enjoy working there.

ConsCould use some more communication between each team.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Be sure it's what you like - human rights work isn’t for everyone

Program Officer (Current Employee)
Washington, DC

I have been working at Freedom House full-time for more than a year

ProsStaff’s commitment to human rights is impressive and they are very knowledgeable about events around the world;
Decent flow of communication through several meetings, and event and travel announcements;
Frequent promotions--depending on nomination by your director, and the president’s approval—promotion from SPA to PO can be a hurdle as it depends on a program’s ability to fund the PA or SPA position;
The benefits are pretty good, staff can work from home several times in a week, and there are opportunities for junior staff to travel if they work in programs or publications;
Overall, they are fair and treat everyone well. If there's an exception, there's probably a story behind it. Every organization has its own challenges and none is perfect. I plan to stay on for 4 more years.

ConsOngoing "Intermittent Technology" (I.T.);
Research output is painfully dull, largely because some directors don't have new research skills and have been using the same old methodology for the past ten to fifteen years;
Some programs have little or no impact, in most part because they are poorly planned and implemented--this is particularly true for the one run in DC by multiple management staff;
Skill level of some junior staff is too low, and some managers and directors are activists and policy wonks, probably because they typically don't make the best managers;
New staff who beat stiff competition to get in are excited and motivated when hired—until they attend one of our junior staff meetings—although some extremely negative members have recently left;
The pay in nonprofits just about gets you a room and a meal in DC - so be sure it's what you want.

Advice to Senior ManagementAssess usefulness of some publications and programs—start with those such as FoE and RF, which are already embedded in regional programs;
Implement some sort of plan to exit long-serving staff who've all run out of fresh ideas.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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Not a bad place to work, but some streamlining and narrowing of strategic direction is needed!

Program Officer (Current Employee)
Washington, DC

I have been working at Freedom House full-time for more than a year

ProsThe work is deeply satisfying and fulfilling, and there's lots of room for creativity and meaningful work, if you really know your region or thematic area.

The benefits are great, and the company health insurance and retirement are the best so far; the work environment is great - people are helpful and collegial.

Freedom House isn't perfect---the pay is not fantastic, but neither is the funding – still, it’s gratifying to know that there are some support staff working very hard and long hours behind the scenes, for our welfare.

Standards and expectations are high, but if you're really on point, your achievements do get recognized. By and large, there's a bunch of talented and experienced staff who place a high premium on teamwork.

The president is a genuinely nice guy, and his wide network of contacts and expertise in a region has significantly helped one of the programs.

A few colleagues who departed for what was thought to be better-paying jobs, are now wishing they had not left Freedom House. Some have had to take up jobs in some dangerous countries---truly talented employees are known by their next job after Freedom House.

Freedom House is my third employer, and by far the best!

ConsOperations department needs to be more functional---you never get a response to your emails on weekends or evenings - when you have the most emergency occurrences. Instead, programs frequently rely more on other departments, to handle emergencies.

Lots of Freedom House staff come straight from college, with not much work experience and think that they have all the answers and are ready to set the world on fire---directors need to be trained on helping them manage expectations.

One program is run by two senior staff, yet it is failing fantastically and making multiple layoffs.

Directors and execs blame others for their decisions, and are often not held accountable for their actions.

Some junior staff want their directors gone; some directors want the executives gone; and some executives just want to be liked by everyone.

Advice to Senior ManagementFocus on fundraising; strengthen publications; merge Africa and MENA – and get a strong director for the merged programs.

Hold directors and execs accountable for their poor management and program decisions.

Get rid of nonperforming directors, execs, and junior staff.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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An organization that dwells on the past

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

I worked at Freedom House

ProsGreat company for fresh graduates; great benefits; convenient location

ConsThis company lives off its name but is unfortunately a dying organization. It struggles on fundraising but has no idea how to innovate its development strategy. Executive staff make closed-door HR decisions. Junior staff cannot move up unless their supervisors leave. The HR department needs another HR department.

Advice to Senior ManagementEmbrace great ideas; hire a consultant to diagnose issues; be more transparent

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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So much on offer

Program Officer (Current Employee)
Washington, DC

I have been working at Freedom House full-time for more than a year

ProsEmployees are committed to human rights and the plight of the oppressed around the world.

Reports from field employees make program work more credible.

Excellent information sharing through staff meetings, huddles, readouts, etc.

Opportunity for frequent international travel for junior staff.

The benefits are great and my supervisor is flexible when it comes to our work hours.

Finance and human resources are responsive, and knowledgeable, with consistent and structured systems in place.

They executives are concerned for employee safety during snow days and close the office.

Technology service providers seem more responsive -- the previous I.T team was more interested in international travel.

ConsThe fundraising infrastructure is weak-- some programs are ineffective fundraisers, and development is not doing such a great job either.

There is a pervasive sense of entitlement among some junior staff.

Advice to Senior ManagementHire employees who want to get work done, not travel on Freedom House's dime.

The proposal team should write proposals for programs.

Most junior staff plan to work for 2 years and use the organization as leverage when seeking other opportunities -- execs should ease up on those promotions.

Tell disgruntled and negative staff to leave. The proposal team should write proposals for programs.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Some wonderful people, lots of bad management

Senior Manager (Former Employee)
Washington, DC

I worked at Freedom House full-time for more than 5 years

ProsSome of the work is extremely interesting and unusual. There are some truly terrific people there. They have experience, commitment, and are the best in the field (compared to the often mediocre staff at the "core institutes"). They are also far more imaginative than the machine-made programs of the "core institutes").
Some of the programs have a very positive impact, genuinely assist in promoting and protecting human rights and democracy.
Some of the research staff are the best in the field.
There are some good middle managers who develop their staff and provide considerable autonomy to their staff to do well.

ConsOverall Freedom House is poorly managed and has a longstanding reputation for weak leadership. Top managers position themselves for their next political appointment and do not invest time and effort in the long-term good of the organization.
There are too many top-level managers with too little to do who charge their time to programs that they do not work on.
Institutional ethics are weak. There is a willingness to pull the wool over funders' eyes. It is also inappropriate in a human rights organization to threaten staff as occurred when management decided to close the Cuba program without explanation.
There is no career path for junior staff, who are not given proper training or opportunities.
The HR and IT functions are poorly staffed and poorly funded. Numerous basic mistakes are made repeatedly, e.g. Freedom House was FLSA non-compliant until 2011, healthcare registrations are not properly processed, record keeping is poor, and staff right to FLA provisions has been questioned by management.
Many programs are poor quality and implemented simply to earn "indirect" from the U.S. government with which to pay top level managers.
Much of the research output is dull and has little impact, largely because procedures are poorly developed and the skill level of the junior research staff is too low (top level research staff are excellent, by contrast).

Advice to Senior ManagementSplit the leadership between a political figureheard, a post which Freedom House knows how to staff, and a manager, who should come from the private sector and should be empowered to make changes and ensure programs and the institution run properly.
Develop the junior staff, invest in them, pay them better.
Develop staff training.
Develop an alumni network and bring good people who have left back to the organization.
Start from stage one with IT and HR. Hire trustworthy people with genuine private sector backgrounds who can also contribute to programming.
Develop private sector/foundation fundraising.
Do a few things extremely well, then build out from these successes. Cut below average programs and managers.
In general, aim to be a professional organization in the few fields you choose to remain in.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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Programs are meaningful and impactful!

Program Officer (Current Employee)
Washington, DC

I have been working at Freedom House full-time for more than a year

ProsYou get to work in all aspects of programs – proposals, work plan, partner training, finance, interviews.
Incredible colleagues across the board.
Good benefits –flexible leave policy, good promotion policy.
Finance and HR are steady composed pillars of support. HR advocates for junior staff - they resolved an issue between me and my director, after much bungling by VP.

ConsEvery organization has its good, bad, and ugly.

Advice to Senior ManagementPublications need to raise own funds – some staff have definitely outstayed, and the NY office is good program money down the drain.
Development department is under a significant amount of strain – they need more resources, while IT seems significantly over-resourced.
Downsize exec team.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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Steady growth, if you are focused

Senior Program Associate (Current Employee)
Washington, DC

I have been working at Freedom House full-time for more than a year

ProsWork environment is as laid back or as fast paced as you want.
Mission-driven staff
Promotions throughout the organization at all levels are a great moral boost.
Talented, hard-working and engaging staff.
401k retirement, vacation and summer hours are great benefits.
Inspiring and helpful onboarding of new staff – out-of-towners are assisted in their serach for apartments in DC, and finding a doctor; observed remarkably professional exit of SPA – impressive process.

ConsMost programs aren’t able to fund more than one SPO position.
Some staff are sick every week.

Advice to Senior ManagementManagers and IT meeting staff for happy hour is awkward.
Watching from the sidelines, you need to better manage expectations of junior staff – most are great, a handful are downright unpleasant to work with, and probably should not have been hired.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Growth opportunities

Program Officer (Current Employee)
Washington, DC

I have been working at Freedom House full-time for more than a year

Pros- they’re trying to build a reputation amongst an ocean of well-funded competitors;

- several trainings, brown-bag meetings, etc. – depends on your appetite for learning and willingness to take up these opportunities;

- they value work-life balance – PAs and SPAs required to obtain supervisor's sign-off before they work more than 40 hours - definitely not the case at my previous job;

- great relationship with my director - don’t agree with others about how bad managers - having interned and worked at two similar organizations, FH is the best;

- interns gain substantive knowledge - learn program support work;

- great benefits – junior staff allowed to work from home - growth opportunities - promotions.

Cons- programs require proficiency in specific regional languages such as Spanish, Russian, Arabic, etc. - this can limit cross-program opportunities;

- over-staffed finance - staff occupy every floor in DC building.

Advice to Senior Management- some staff aren’t busy - underscored by time expended conducting surveys, and now - environmental committee - when there’s an office manager in the building;

- provide substantive feedback and support to programs - our program had a time-sensitive problem that was referred to the VP - VP didn’t proffer a solution, instead, he said he understood our frustration - senior VP offered substantive feedback, and saved the day.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Glassdoor is your free inside look at Freedom House reviews and ratings — including employee satisfaction and approval rating for Freedom House CEO David J. Kramer. All 31 reviews posted anonymously by Freedom House employees.