Recruiting for Non-Profits

Not-for-profit organizations are an essential part of society and offer a tremendous service to those whom they serve. These organizations accomplish lofty goals through the tireless efforts of their many contributors. Often, in the pursuit of moving these mountains, non-profits will have to attract top talent capable of advancing the organization’s agenda. Unfortunately, this means going toe to toe with the recruitment campaigns of the much larger for-profit sector. While not-for-profits will experience unique challenges, a strategic approach to recruitment can yield great results.

Challenges of Not for Profit Recruiting

High-level recruitment can be a fast-moving game where the best results are often seen by those who are nimble enough to answer opportunity’s proverbial knock. As the saying goes, ‘you snooze, you lose’. Not-for-profits are often run by boards that are not as agile in the decision-making process as their counterparts in the corporate world. Compounding the problem, many NPOs lack a sophisticated Human Resources department or, in some cases, any human resources department at all! This can make it difficult to properly scout, recruit and promote available positions. Furthermore, NPOs may find themselves operating on relatively tight budgets which don’t allow them to compete in bidding wars with for profit businesses.

Finding Mr. or Ms Right

While the above challenges are very real, some strategic thinking can allow NPOs to shine an attractive light upon the opportunity the position presents to maximize the number of suitable candidates they eventually consider.

It’s best to avoid the temptation to scout only from within your organization, or even the non-profit sector as a whole. While some positions require a knowledge base and skill set that is very specific to the particular mission at hand, others, such as finance or technical roles, are more universal in nature. These positions can be recruited from the workforce at large, with the right candidate bringing transferable skills with them when they arrive.

When looking for talent pools, it can be helpful to consider the backgrounds of highly performing members of the current team. Perhaps there is something about a certain field that translates nicely into value within your organization.

After candidates are identified, they must be assessed. When planning this process, consider the role. Will the person be called upon to speak publicly on behalf of the organization? Turn up the heat with a team interview and see how the candidate responds. Will grant applications and other forms of persuasive writing be critical? Add a written component to the process.

Selling the Spot: How Not-for-Profits can Highlight their Opportunities

As mentioned, NPOs are often unable to compete dollar for dollar with for-profit companies. With this in mind, it’s best to avoid lofty job titles if you are unable to match the compensation offers presented by the competition.
Instead, sell the opportunity based on what it is. Many qualified candidates long to be part of something they believe in and non-profit organizations frequently present that opportunity to contribute to society in a real and rewarding way. Highlighting employee culture can provide a valuable incentive for a candidate looking to join a cohesive team which operates in a positive environment.

Valuable information about a candidate’s commitment can sometimes be gained by looking at their past. Do they have volunteer history? Are their values aligned with those of the organization? Personal passions that match your organization’s can indicate a potentially loyal employee.

Finally, some good salesmanship can go a long way. Highlight the opportunities and collaborative efforts that await the successful candidate. Herald the company mission! Create a well-written and concise employee value proposition. These steps will help you convey just how great this opportunity is!

Get Help Finding Help!

With such a competitive recruiting landscape, it can be difficult to go it alone. Fortunately, there are recruiting agencies that are willing to lend their expertise. Some, such as Goldbeck Recruiting, are often willing to offer discounted rates to non-profit organizations. We have worked with organizations like the Community Living Society, DIVERSEcity, AMS at UBC, Metis Nation, SOS Children’s Village and The Hebrew Loan Association. By working with organizations such as these Goldbeck has developed an expertise in non-profit recruiting and can help find the ideal candidate for your important position.