3 Things Nonprofits Must Focus On To Attract and Retain Top Talent

The United States is currently undergoing a massive worker shortage. This has impacted all industries, including the nonprofit sector, which is showing a major increase in the amount of unfilled positions.

But it isn’t just about hiring anyone to fill open spots. These vacancies are forcing nonprofits to approach nonprofit talent recruiting in a more comprehensive way, and build specific recruitment strategies that their nonprofit may not have previously needed.

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3 focus areas to help you find and hire the right candidate for your nonprofit

Ready to build your robust nonprofit talent management plan so you can hire and retain top prospects? Follow these three steps.

1. Create a complete list of talent sources

You can’t hire talent if you don’t know where that talent is. Your organization needs a comprehensive, organized list of talent sources (e.g., online job boards) that meets job seekers where they are and makes it easier to find a qualified candidate when you need one.

Your list or spreadsheet of candidate sources should include any relevant details, such as associated listing or advertising costs. The process of gathering information on where you can source new hires should involve communicating with other staff or board members who may have connections or additional recruiting sources you aren’t aware of.

Talent sources for your nonprofit organization can include:

  • Ask staff and board members to forward/share job openings with the networks they’ve built during their nonprofit careers. You could also consider offering a financial incentive for every job filled this way (also known as a referral bonus).

  • Social media channels, including paid advertisements, such as LinkedIn or Facebook.

  • Websites like Glassdoor or Indeed, as well as job boards that cater to the nonprofit sector such as FoundationList and Encore.

2. Create a comprehensive onboarding process

Onboarding is an underutilized component of talent management and nonprofit recruiting. When onboarding is done right, it involves more than just filling out paperwork and providing access to internal tools and systems.

Comprehensive onboarding creates a clear sense of purpose for a nonprofit organization, helps ensure that employees understand their roles, and serves as an introduction to an organization’s culture.

At a nonprofit, onboarding should also fill employees with a sense of purpose related to the organization’s goals and mission. If your onboarding isn’t comprehensive, it can result in a weak relationship between an employee and your organization, making turnover more likely.

Good onboarding requires honesty and should intersect with all aspects of your nonprofit. This means that nonprofit organizations should:

  • Seek feedback from board members and other staff members when designing onboarding. Ask for input on ways past onboarding has fallen short and work to remedy these shortcomings.

  • Survey employees post-onboarding (once they’re settled into their role) about what they needed to know but didn’t learn or tools that would have been helpful to have when starting out. This can look like anonymous surveys or even exit interviews with employees who are leaving.

  • Create a clear overview of job duties and how those duties serve your organization’s overall mission.

3. Create a close communication loop between management and employees

Even the most well-funded nonprofits still struggle to offer salaries that are commensurate to the for-profit sector. This means that you have to consider more than just benefits and salaries when discussing nonprofit recruitment.

One of the ways to flesh out a robust strategy is ensuring that management and employees are closely connected and in regular communication within your organization.

Studies have shown that increased connection between management and employees can lead to higher employee satisfaction and lower turnover. This, in turn, can help you retain candidates you’ve worked so hard to recruit.

So, what does this look like in practice?

  • Management must regularly and actively pursue ways to connect with employees. This can include regular meetings, quick catch-ups, and keeping their door open.

  • Employees should be encouraged to communicate with management. Candid and forthright conversations should be celebrated and rewarded in everyday communication.

  • Management needs to lead by example and have frank conversations with employees on an as-needed basis. This may mean telling employees unpleasant truths or offering constructive criticisms.

  • Social communication should be encouraged with after-work activities, including family picnics or happy hours.

Nonprofit talent management is more important than ever

Since nonprofit recruiting is tougher than ever, your nonprofit talent management strategy must be robust and more aggressive than ever before. These focus areas can help you make that a reality, and help make sure you have the right people to carry out your critical mission.

Facing other HR challenges at your organization beyond recruitment? Explore tools and solutions that can help with nonprofit HR.