How To Staff Your Nonprofit Organization With Rockstars
A truly impactful nonprofit requires a rockstar staff to run it. But what does this staff look like? And how can you find viable candidates? This kind of hiring goes beyond the basic HR policies for your nonprofit organization, requiring know-how and strategy from the top down.
In this guide, we share how key roles can shape your mission, what platforms to use to find employees, and more!
- Determine Who Your Organization Needs
- How To Prioritize Staffing and Optimize Spending
- How To Write and Post Job Descriptions for the Nonprofit Sector
- Final Thoughts
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Determine Who Your Organization Needs
Who you hire — as well as how many people you hire — depends on the needs of your organization. All nonprofits need a lot of help to function, but how you allocate that help can vary. Here, we take a look at some common nonprofit positions to determine whether they may be a match for your own organization.
Every large nonprofit has at least one staff accountant. But is an accountant necessary for a small nonprofit? In many cases, probably not. Another staff member can handle bookkeeping duties with a bit of training. Or, you can hire for a bookkeeper position, which does not require as much expertise — and, therefore, compensation — as an accountant. Your final alternative is to outsource this work entirely, only paying an outside bookkeeper or accountant as needed.
The term "C-suite" refers to the highest-ranking employees of an organization, including the chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO), chief marketing officer (CMO), and other officers. They take on the high-level managerial duties of various departments. For example, the CFO is in charge of the finance department, so any accountants, bookkeepers, or other financial personnel funnel up to them.
Oliver is framing up his staffing needs!
Every nonprofit needs top-level leaders, but depending on your size, you may not need to hire a whole team of them. For instance, maybe a 40-person nonprofit just needs a CEO and COO.
An HR director, a third-party consultant, or an HR software can handle phone systems and other nonprofit HR services for you. Having dedicated HR professionals can be useful for large organizations with continuous HR tasks. However, if you are just starting out, HR software is a less expensive alternative that can do many of the day-to-day functions of an HR department. You can even find some free HR softwares for your nonprofit.
For a mid-sized organization, outsourcing may be the answer, as it is more hands-on than software but less expensive than a dedicated staff. Larger nonprofits can also outsource certain HR tasks. For example, you may hire a consultant to run your nonprofit’s HR training because you do not have the in-house expertise.
If you run a membership-based nonprofit, you may want to have a membership coordinator or director handle your membership program. Some potential duties for this person include:
Triaging member questions and concerns
Overseeing member recruitment
Following up on member payments
Sending member communications
Maintaining member records
Organizing member activities
When working for a nonprofit, fundraising is your bread and butter. In small organizations, a staff member who tackles several roles could handle this duty as well. As they grow, however, nonprofits need a dedicated professional to plan and oversee fundraising campaigns.
A marketing director builds community awareness for your cause. In addition to being a skilled storyteller, they also need to understand how to communicate with their target audience. In today’s world, this means that they should know how to use social media platforms, blogs, websites, and newsletters. They also need to understand how to use Google Analytics and other marketing tools.
If you run a lot of softwares and programs to manage your organization, you may need to hire an IT professional. Some all-in-one management platforms, such as Springly, offer a simple interface and dedicated customer support team so that you can use your tools without an IT director. You can also keep costs low by hiring an IT contractor to address issues or projects as they arise.
Pro Tip: When a nonprofit is just starting out, one person can fill multiple roles. This is fine as long as you take steps to avoid staff burnout. Unfortunately, employee turnover in nonprofit organizations is high because individuals overextend themselves — whether by choice or request. Take the temperatures of your employees often to see how they are holding up. As you grow, be quick to hire new employees to help your current ones.
How To Prioritize Staffing and Optimize Spending
Creating a rockstar team is about more than just getting the right people; it is also about filling the right positions. Startup and small nonprofits have limited funding to allocate toward staffing, so they need to fill the positions that are absolutely necessary at that time. Data-driven nonprofits fare well in this scenario because they consciously hire based on who their collected data tells them they need.
This is going to look different for every organization, but here are a few essential roles to hire for from the beginning.
Executive director: Your executive director is your nonprofit leader. They oversee all aspects of the organization from board development to financial management. Having a person in charge who really understands leadership in general and nonprofits more specifically can create a cohesive and dynamic team.
Emily is ready to prioritize!
Membership director: If you are not a membership-based organization, this position does not apply to you. However, if you are, it is an absolutely essential hire. This individual keeps your members happy, and these members are an essential funding stream.
Fundraising director: Fundraising is the most important aspect of running a nonprofit organization. You want to have a stellar individual in charge of managing donations, planning events, and finding donors.
Pro Tip: Make sure that the leaders you bring in mesh well with your existing team. Your directors set the tone for the entire organization, so choose candidates who can lead your nonprofit, not just look good on paper.
How To Write and Post Job Descriptions for the Nonprofit Sector
To attract the best and brightest talent to your organization, you have to write motivating job descriptions that reach your target audiences. The majority of the time, you are fighting against the fallacy that working in the nonprofit sector is not as desirable as working in the for-profit industry.
So, how can you find the best candidates and entice them to join your nonprofit? Follow our top strategies and tips below.
Potential applicants — especially those who have not worked for a nonprofit before — may think that they are going to be expected to work for very little compensation. So, do not be coy about mentioning the salary and benefits in the job description. Also, add any other perks that may make the job more enticing, such as:
Subsidized child care
Unlimited paid time off
4.5-day work weeks
Hybrid/remote nonprofit office setup
Be Realistic — and Optimistic
Earlier in this guide, we mentioned how the employee retention rate in nonprofit organizations can sometimes be low. To avoid turnover down the road, be transparent about what the role entails. However, you do not want to come across as crass and scare off potentially valuable hires. So, strike a balance by adding how critical the role is to the organization's success.
Mention Your Cause
The leaders of your nonprofit must prioritize the needs of your chosen community. In a perfect world, every new hire would be as excited about your mission as you are. However, realistically, your employees just need to believe in it. When you write a job description, your cause should be front and center. You can ensure this by including stats about your impact.
Use the Right Platforms
To get the word out to job seekers, you have to post your job description. There are several popular platforms you can use. You can even choose to use more than one to cast a wider net in the hopes of finding a really qualified candidate.
To post your job positions on Indeed, you need to set up an account and pay a monthly fee. Indeed is a trusted job search site, offering basic plans and boosted services. However, you have to reach out to its customer service department to find out more about pricing.
Salma is taking notes on how to write killer job descriptions!
LinkedIn is more of a recruitment social media site than an actual job board. But, of course, hiring is a big part of what it does. You can start by networking with other nonprofits in your sector and area to research what they offer new hires. Then, you can tweak your job description accordingly before posting it. There is a free version of LinkedIn, but a paid account is going to be more effective.
This newer platform offers a three-step system to get your job posting to the right people. First, create a job description using one of its customizable templates. With one click, it sends you to 100+ job sites. Next, it uses matching technology to pair your description with the right candidates and invite them to apply. Finally, you can use the dashboard to sort, review, and rate your potential hires. Its algorithm learns from your reviews to send you similar candidates in the future.
National Council of Nonprofits
This organization offers information and advocacy for other nonprofit organizations. It has a job posting board with a tiered pricing structure that includes:
$99 for a standard job post for 60 days
$139 for a featured job post
$25 to unlock a candidate profile
$139 to become a featured employer for 30 days
One of the main benefits of using this site is that any candidate searching here is actively looking to work for a nonprofit organization. That way, you are not fighting with private sector job postings on LinkedIn, Indeed, or another website.
The stronger your team, the more effective your organization. While staffing may seem daunting, hopefully, our guide makes it a little more manageable. With our best practices in place, you can staff your organization without breaking the bank or skimping on quality!
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💡How do I write nonprofit job descriptions?
Keep three main ideas in mind when you are writing job descriptions for your nonprofit: mention compensation, make your mission clear, and specify the responsibilities. Find out more.
🔑 Who do I need to hire for my nonprofit?
Depending on your nonprofit’s size, budget, setup, and more, you may need to hire for membership, fundraising, HR, marketing, IT, accounting, and executive personnel. Find out more.
📝 What roles can I afford to hire for my nonprofit?
It depends on your nonprofit’s budget. However, start with an executive director and fundraising director. Find out more.