Staffing at nonprofits can be a challenge

August 29, 2013

Staffing at nonprofits can be a challenge

While volunteers, donors and board members can make big contributions to a nonprofit, it is the day-to-day staff that is the real reason why many organizations are able to support their mission. Having poor hiring processes can make it difficult for nonprofits to recruit the most skilled workers and grow their operations. One issue that can be a deciding factor in whether top talent decides to work is salary, and nonprofit decision-makers have to be ready to put in a solid offer.

According to recent research from CareerBuilder, more than half of job seekers will negotiate salaries when they receive an initial job offer, while workers older than 35 years old are most likely to present a counteroffer when discussing employment within an organization.

Nonprofits should have competitive compensation
Some employees will be willing to give nonprofits a slight break on salary because they support the cause of the organization. But, nonetheless, it's important for nonprofits to offer salaries that are in line with other organizations. One-third of employers are currently basing pay off the insights collected by looking at postings from other entities, while 48 percent will simply discuss salaries with potential employees during the first job interview.

"Forty-nine percent of hiring managers surveyed said job candidates have refused offers due to salary," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "It's critical that recruiters and hiring managers are armed with up-to-date compensation data. If you offer premium talent below market rates, it can be very difficult to fill vacant positions."

Create a streamlined hiring process
Salaries are just one aspect of recruitment that can be difficult for hiring managers at nonprofits. Before any hiring takes place, organizations should have a set process. Here are some tips from The Bridgespan Group on how nonprofits can create a plan for hiring employees:

  • Decide on the interview process: Nonprofits that are adding top-level staff members may want to have candidates meet with the board of directors before offering them the position. However, entry-level team members may only have to meet with their managers before getting hired.
  • Make sure new hires can support the mission: Working at a nonprofit is slightly different than seeking employment at a regular business. Hiring managers must ensure candidates understand the unique cause of the organization.
  • Always remember to stay flexible: Nonprofits are usually thinly staffed, and employees are often moved around to supplement others. Keeping this in mind can make it easier to decide on the right staff members.

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The Ensight Skills Center has enjoyed working with First Nonprofit for several years. We are enrolled in their Unemployment Savings Program and although we have not required a lot of intervention, there have been a few times. I know others have dealt with the same problem of unemployment fraud over the last year and in our case, a call to First Nonprofit (they actually answer their phones) cleared up the issue. They also sent us a letter to send to all our employees telling them what they needed to do to prevent this in the future and protect themselves. What a relief! Over the years if I have questions or concerns, they are happy to listen, advise and help if they can. Another BIG advantage of using First Nonprofit is that all the money that is paid into the Unemployment Savings Program lives on my balance sheet as an asset. The money continues to be Ensight’s not the governments. First Nonprofit has certainly given me peace of mind.

Ensight Skills Center, Inc, Fort Collins, CO

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Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY

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New York Council of Nonprofits, Albany, NY

It has been our sincere pleasure to maintain a strong, vibrant business partnership with First Nonprofit. We greatly admire their strong industry knowledge, technical expertise, constant professionalism, knowledgeable and dedicated staff. They are always extremely responsive, personable and provide us with the necessary guidance and recommendations on a numerous variety of employment scenarios. We are impressed with the accuracy of their employment decisions, integrity of their employees and efficiency of their claim handling. We greatly respect and value the consistent, impressive cost savings from the utilization of their outstanding services.


Thresholds, Chicago, IL

Because INCS advocates for the operating conditions that allow charter public schools to provide high quality public education, partnering with First Nonprofit was an easy decision. First Nonprofit’s unemployment programs provide our member schools two operating elements crucial to their ability to provide high quality public education: savings and budget certainty. Capable, committed teachers are the key to student success. By participating in the unemployment insurance savings plan, charter public schools gain peace of mind and are able to invest more money in their teachers.

Illinois Network of Charter Schools, Chicago, IL

Throughout our membership in the Unemployment Savings Program, First Nonprofit understood our demands, community dynamics, and the importance of seamless services; that allowed us to serve our constituents better.

Prevent Blindness America, Chicago, IL