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Nonprofits are geared toward helping others and boosting the greater good in our communities, so it’s a privilege when a nonprofit board of directors requests our assistance with their executive searches. Nonprofit recruitment strategies differ in many ways from traditional recruiting practices. For instance, many companies appeal to candidates with their strong corporate identity, while nonprofits emphasize an opportunity to partake in a mission, like empowering or advocating for others or addressing critical service needs for marginalized populations or communities. Consider hiring a firm with experience sourcing and recruiting for nonprofits and a firm that has an extensive network of nonprofit leaders.

Employee Value Proposition

Many nonprofits are great at defining their mission, vision, and values but might not articulate what their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is. This is a way to attract top talent and tells candidates about the values, rewards, and benefits of joining the organization. This can go on to share the total rewards offered, as well. An experienced recruiting firm can help you write a compelling EVP and make sure that it is included in the job ad and on the Careers page on your website.

Skill Sets, Passion, and Culture Alignment

Following the EVP, the job ad will proceed with a brief description of the organization and a list of responsibilities and qualifications that will likely include nonprofit leadership, relationship building related to fund development and community partnerships, staff management, business acumen, and board partnership. Grant writing, volunteer engagement, creating civic and other partnerships, and knowledge of niche industries are other commonly required skill sets.

Before sourcing starts, it’s important for the recruiter to gain an understanding of the organization’s culture through preliminary client calls and feedback gleaned from senior staff and board member surveys. The latter not only yields valuable insights, but also provides an opportunity for staff and other board members to have a chance to participate in the hiring process, which enhances buy-in when a candidate is selected. When sourcing, start by looking for candidates who have some evidence that they will be passionate about the work, like a connection to the mission or a history of personal experience in the field.

When dispositioning applicants, the recruiter should focus mainly on the qualifications. When they conduct telephone screens, recruiters also determine passion for the mission and whether there is a culture fit with their management or leadership style.

Positive Candidate Experience

There’s a great deal of competition for top talent. In an employee-centric market, creating a positive candidate experience should be every recruiter’s goal. Once we begin receiving applicants, the recruiter should communicate regularly, even if it’s to say, “We are continuing to source candidates and expect to begin interviews in a few weeks.”

Positive engagement with applicants will ensure a robust pipeline of candidates for future job opportunities. One of the most common complaints candidates have relates to the lack of communication they received after job interviews.

Building the Candidate Pool

It’s important to engage in various recruitment strategies to find high-caliber candidates. We encourage referrals from the organization’s own staff and board members along with seeking prospects from the recruiter’s channels and connections in the industry. A great nonprofit recruiter will leverage social media using targeted Boolean searches, post on multiple job boards, network with industry and community leaders, and draw from their own deep candidate database.

Let Us Help

If you are a nonprofit that would like Purple Ink to partner with your board on your next executive search, reach out to us. We offer custom proposals to meet your unique needs and budget and work with search committees to oversee all the tasks essential to a successful transition. We also provide recruitment services for all levels of nonprofit and for-profit jobs.

Kathleen Poland
Kathleen Poland
Kathleen is a former member of the Purple Ink team. She is passionate about matching candidates to client roles for optimal success.

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