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Organizational Management

Nonprofit Talent: How to Find and Retain Awesome People

Author: Sonia Urlando
February 28, 2023
🕑 9 min read

Everyone knows that a nonprofit is only as good as its team. With a capable and collaborative group of people running your organization, anything is possible! But how do you find and retain nonprofit talent for the long haul?

Since the Great Resignation that followed the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have struggled with staffing shortages. Finding and keeping your perfect candidates is not as easy as it once was, which can be especially difficult for smaller nonprofits. In order to make the work that goes into a nonprofit talent search really pay off, you’ll want to hire the perfect people for the job. 

Here’s everything you need to know about how to find the best nonprofit talent, understand what they want and keep them for years to come! 

What do we mean by great nonprofit talent?

Great nonprofit talent looks like people who are self-motivated, team players, passionate about your mission and experienced in the field. These folks are good at what they do and a pleasure to work with!

Here are some examples of the unique needs of different roles:

  • Board members should be personally invested in your mission and come with the networks that can support your long-term goals. You should also recruit board members who have the right skills for their specialized roles (secretary, finance officer, etc.). 
  • Executive directors are self-motivated and passionate individuals. The best candidates will have the vision necessary to cultivate and inspire a team who lives by your nonprofit’s values.
  • Accounting managers should be able to see the stories behind the numbers. While you are looking for candidates who think realistically, the best team members are willing to get creative when it comes to making your goals financially viable.
  • Volunteer coordinators are people who know how to organize with one hand and motivate with the other. Managing a large group of people takes a sharp logistical mind and a warm attitude—look for someone who can juggle spreadsheets with a smile!
  • Nonprofit marketing managers should have the creative minds that can turn content creation into data-driven results. They should definitely have experience with running  email and social media campaigns, and be up to date on the latest trends.
  • Fundraising coordinators should be big dreamers and star communicators—after all, they’re the ones who will bring in new donors and big sponsors. Look for people who have a strong track record of fundraising for other nonprofit organizations.

While a huge part of nonprofit talent management is hiring lasting members, that doesn’t mean you should skip out on succession planning.  You cannot control when people are ready to move on to a new job, but you CAN make it easier for future-you to hire someone new when the time comes.

Click through to claim your 60-day trial of WildApricot to create effective QR codes that will speed up event check-in.

Why do people join (or leave!) the nonprofit industry?

You might be wondering why people choose to work for a nonprofit in the first place. More often than not, it comes down to their passion for the mission of the organization. Instead of donating or volunteering, they want to fully invest by becoming a staff member.

However, the nonprofit world isn’t always an easy place to work. Nonprofit organizations are known for their low salaries: unless you’re a CEO, you’re definitely not going to be making six figures. On average, most positions pay somewhere in the $40k-$50k range—some executive directors will be paid as low as $47,000 per year.

One of the best parts of working at a nonprofit is being surrounded by passionate, like-minded individuals. Nonprofit jobs attract people who love to give! While that makes for a fantastic work environment. Unfortunately it also makes nonprofit burnout common when people work beyond their capacity.

With the ongoing talent shortage in the nonprofit sector, retaining and caring for your staff members is more important than ever. We’ll cover some of the ways you can make your nonprofit an awesome and worthwhile place to work!

How do you find nonprofit talent that fits your organization?

As you set up your nonprofit talent search, you’ll want to be looking for people who are the right fit for both your industry and your organization.

Here are five tips for finding your ideal candidates:

1. Share openings on multiple channels

Reaching the right people means posting and the right places.  every channel has a different purpose, so be mindful of the sort of candidates you want to attract.

For example: 

  • LinkedIn will find you industry professionals who are actively searching for new work.
  • Instagram is a great place to find your marketers and advertise your company culture.
  • Twitter can help you reach a broader audience with active hashtags.
  • Facebook has options for paid promotion to get a wider reach..

Just like you would use a social media guide for a special campaign, you can use social media to your advantage when it comes to filling nonprofit talent jobs.

2. Use nonprofit job boards

Never underestimate the power of a nonprofit job board. Serious job hunters will be actively seeking out positions on websites designed for that purpose. Creating listings that include all of the essential information is a great way to attract your ideal candidates.

If you don’t have your own job board software, now would be a great time to invest!

Job Board by Personify gives you the tools to create and host your very own job board For your industry. If people see that the nonprofit talent jobs they’re exploring are tied to the job board itself, they’re even more likely to trust that your nonprofit is a great place to work for.

Sign up for a free demo today!

3. Tap into your network

Let your network do some of the work for you when it comes to your nonprofit talent search. These are the folks with the clearest idea of what your nonprofit might be looking for. Give them the opportunity to help you make fresh connections.

Your board of directors are a fantastic asset for this sort of work. When you first hire a new board member, be sure to set the expectation of networking in your nonprofit board training.

4. Referrals, referrals, referrals!

There’s nothing better than a personal recommendation! Asking people to refer you to prospective job candidates is like getting a reference for the job interview. Rather than wondering if someone is right for your organization, you’ll already have a clear idea of how they have worked with someone you trust.

Think about including a special incentive for referrals from current staff members. Offering a small bonus for every new hire they recommended is an awesome way to build morale and get your team to do some of the work for you. Plus, it builds relationships nice and early!

5. Engage candidates with a call to action

Remember how we mentioned all of the different ways that people will show support for your organization? You never know when people are going to want to make the upgrade from member to staff member.

When you’re running a mission-driven campaign, post some content about positions you’re hiring for. If people feel particularly passionate about your mission, they might consider applying for a job within your organization.

Take a look at your member database as well. If you see some all-star members who happen to mention they’re job hunting in the community forums, reach out to them personally. They just might be the perfect fit!

Creating a nonprofit organization talent is thrilled to work for! 

As we said earlier, while the nonprofit sector can be super rewarding, it also comes with its challenges. Here are four ways that you can make your organization worth sticking by through the ups and downs.

1. Have a mission that sings

Your nonprofit exists because there is a cause that you and your team believe in. Your mission is the heart of your organization, and all of the everyday tasks and major efforts go into supporting it.

So share that mission loudly and proudly! You know that the work you do matters, so be sure to tell the world. There are many nonprofit jobs out there—show people why yours is the one to take.

2. Check in on your current culture

One of the most important things at any job is having a healthy company culture. Consider what it feels like to be in the office (or checking in during remote meetings!). No matter how high the pay or important the cause, no one wants to work at a place that drains their energy.

A great strategy for nonprofit talent management is sending out staff surveys. Does your team feel appreciated? Are they excited to come to work?

If you find that the answer is no, look for some ways to make changes that will make your current employees happy and inspire new people to apply.

3. Showcase your values

Along with your cause, what are the values within your company? Is it important to you to foster diversity? Do you care about creating a fun and collaborative work environment?

There are tons of quality candidates out in the world—look for the ones who will be the best fit within your particular nonprofit organization. Things work best when people’s values align!

4. Champion flexible work

Gone are the days of working a rigid 9-5 in the same old office space! The world is changing, and a good deal of your nonprofit talent is going to be interested in working in a hybrid or remote team

If there is work that can be done from home, offer them the option. This will open up space for candidates across the country, as well as make your work more accessible to disabled employees. Flexible hours are also valuable for employees who have children.

This might be a shift from the way your nonprofit has previously run. Don’t let yourself get intimidated— you might be surprised by the positive changes this structure brings to your organization!

How can your nonprofit KEEP your great talent?

So you’ve attracted some awesome new nonprofit talent—now how do you retain people?

Here are five best practices for nonprofit talent management:

1. Set clear expectations in interviews

In all relationships, a misunderstanding of expectations can lead to disaster—and this is especially true when it comes to nonprofit jobs!

Misunderstandings about things like salary, day-to-day responsibilities and growth opportunities can make even the brightest applicant get quickly frustrated with their position. Plus, you might find that your own expectations as an employer are not being met.

Set clear employee expectations during the interview process. No matter how much you like someone, it’s not worth pursuing them if they aren’t a good fit.

2. Welcome them from day one

Show people that you are happy to have them there. Your staff members want to feel appreciated and respected, and something as simple as a warm welcome will show you that your nonprofit is a great way to work.

This could look like making personal introductions, holding a special welcome meeting or giving your employee a “happy one month!”  Starbucks gift card.

3. Have your onboarding plans in place

Job hunters know how important it is to stay organized. If someone has gotten hired at your organization, chances are they’ve put a lot of work in already. So if onboarding ends up feeling messy, they might have doubts about the quality of your company.

Create a smooth onboarding process that will help people transition into their new role. Something as simple as an onboarding checklist is a great resource to have.

4. Build a career path for them

Jobs are most valuable when they set up opportunities for the future. When people feel as though they’ve hit a wall in their nonprofit job, They’re far less likely to stick with it. In fact, 63% of people who quit their jobs in 2021 did so because they felt they had no opportunities for advancement.

Actively ask your employees what they’re looking to gain during their time with your organization. Offering professional development opportunities is an especially great resource.

5. Check in regularly

Communication is everything! If an employee is feeling unsatisfied with their job, you don’t want to only find out when they’re handing in their letter of resignation.

Ask people how they’re doing at work, and what ways you can better support them. It might not always feel good to hear that people are unsatisfied, but having that information gives you the opportunity to collaborate and make it better.

Going forward with successful nonprofit talent management

While you might be feeling some of the friction of staff shortages, take comfort in the fact that there is tons of nonprofit talent out there. As long as you set up clear job postings, follow interview best practices and continue to foster relationships with the people you’ve hired, your nonprofit organization has nowhere to go but up!

If you’re looking to consolidate the daily work that goes into running a nonprofit, consider registering with WildApricot. Your shiny new staff members can seamlessly learn the front and back end of membership management as they transition into their roles. Plus, Job Board by Personify easily integrates as an add-on!

Sign up for your 60-day free trial today.

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