The PeopleCap Playbook

Timely insights and actionable people strategies for leaders.

Go for it: Pursue Top Talent!

Nonprofit leaders – stop selling yourself short when it comes to recruiting great talent! The nonprofit sector is an incredible career path for a bevy of reasons. Use that to your advantage to find great talent and make sure candidates know how you can positively impact their career trajectory.

Executive Directors all too frequently claim they can’t afford the talent they really need – I don’t buy it. I’ll get on my soap box about underinvestment in talent in a future blog post. For this one, let’s focus on the fact that you have a ton to offer beyond salary range. Yes, income is a significant factor in job choice. However, it’s not the only factor. And the nonprofit sector has a wealth of riches to offer prospective employees in terms of lifestyle, growth, and purpose!

In the middle of the tech boom, I somehow convinced a very skilled web developer to work for a significant discount because we could provide an incredible opportunity that he wouldn’t get anywhere else. I told him I knew he could earn more elsewhere and that I wouldn’t blame him for pursuing a great income. I wanted to lay out for him why working at a nonprofit would benefit his career.

Despite a lower salary, the organization had worked to keep benefits a strong focus for all employees including health insurance and a 401K that rivaled those at my husband’s investment bank. I could offer him schedule flexibility and really great paid time off which was extremely valuable for a single father. He would have much stronger influence over his projects than at a web design firm with substantial leadership over platforms, concepts, art, and more. I also knew we would need to support his technical skill growth. We would need him to learn as much as possible to keep us abreast of trends – in other words, we would pay to grow his skills and keep him competitive. He agreed that the opportunity was right for him and chose to forgo higher paying jobs to join our team.

The nonprofit world is an incredible climate for rapid skill growth; everyone has to wear multiple hats which means any employee is going to learn new things and be provided growth opportunities not available in a for-profit environment. The work has a clear mission which generates passion and focus unsurpassed in other sectors. Nonprofit employees have great influence at their organizations where, once again, limited resources allow organizations to tap a willing employee to try something new or lead a project they might not be offered in another organization.

So, next time you need to fill a position, stop limiting your options! Instead, take stock of all you have to offer a potential new employee. Expand your search and sell the incredible opportunity you have available. Emphasize selling points such as:

  • Mission driven work
  • Growth opportunities
  • Flexible schedules
  • Opportunities to create and implement new ideas
  • Influence
  • Benefits
  • Paid time off
  • Expanded networking with community leaders and board members

If your organization hasn’t explored more schedule flexibility or expanded paid time off, I highly recommend you consider these benefits. Nonprofit employees typically work quite hard for lower salaries. You have the chance to offer them some great perks without cost to the organization: They’ll help make you more competitive in your talent searches and they’ll help you avoid the very high nonprofit burn out factor.