Nonprofit Recruitment Roadmap

Recruitment Interview
Written by - 02 Oct 2018 Category: Non-profit Challenges

It will not come as a surprise to most that non-profit recruitment is different from corporate hiring. The non-profit line of work has particular characteristics that make everything about it unique.

It will not come as a surprise to most that non-profit recruitment is different from corporate hiring. The non-profit line of work has particular characteristics that make everything about it unique. For a newcomer, the difference becomes visible right during the recruitment process - fewer candidates, extended roles and responsibilities, lower pay, and yes, a seemingly ad hoc recruitment team! But there is no reason to be bogged down by these differences. Non-profits can, and must, develop a process to attract, and retain, talented candidates.

This post looks into the 5 core aspects of an efficient recruitment roadmap for non-profits.

1. Describing What You Are Looking For

Plainly put, you cannot find something that you cannot describe! A well-written job description is not only essential for you to hire, but also necessary for a prospective applicant to judge this interest in the position. Unfortunately, most job descriptions are poorly written. Do list roles and responsibilities, but do not stop there. Make sure to describe specific, day-to-day responsibilities and mention performance indicators. This will also be a great exercise for you to identify the right attributes for the ideal candidate. We will see, in a later section, how this is helpful.

For the benefit of the candidate, also highlight meaningful benefits - financial, learning and development, work-life balance etc, as applicable to the position. This will motivate the right kind of candidates to apply.

2. Sourcing Candidates

Most non-profit hiring happens through personal network of the hiring manager. Such hiring is restrictive and may not provide access to the most talented candidates. Non-profits, it is clear, struggle in marketing their job requirements on a wider platform. This can be easily overcome by posting requirements on job portals specifically designed for non-profits - Idealist, Non-Profit Times Career Match, Commongood Careers, Bridgespan Group etc. For local and junior hiring, one can always rely on social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Campus recruitment is another efficient method to hire interns. Really, the broader you advertise the job, the better the candidate pool will be.

3. Screening Resumes

Once you start receiving applications, it is now time to process them. Whatever may be the screening workload, it is always recommended to follow an objective assessment mechanism. A scoring matrix is a simple tool you can use to evaluate each candidate on various attributes you identified while writing the job description. This way, weighting each application is an unambiguous process. In case of a score tie, you can always have the same applications evaluated by a number of individuals!

Non-profit jobs often demand donning multiple hats. This may complicate the screening process, because many applicants may not have experience in all areas that your job requires. In such cases, you can come up with one must-have skill score and another nice-to-have skill score, to bifurcate core and complementary skills.

4. Conducting Interviews

It is necessary for the hiring manager to prepare for the interview, as much as the applicant does! This is the most crucial phase of recruitment, and you must ensure that the candidate you are hiring is the most appropriate fit. Preparing a list of questions to judge the candidate’s interests and abilities is a starting point. Maintaining an interview score, on the lines of the resume score we saw earlier, is recommended as well.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to conducting interviews. However, the most effective interviews are the ones that are personalised for the job at hand. Past laurels are great, but don’t get impressed unless you see how they will fit into your organisation and this particular job. Ask specific action-oriented questions - how will you handle such and such situation etc - to know how the candidate responds to situations he/she is likely to encounter. Lastly, don’t forget to get convinced on the “vibes” you get from the applicant!

5. Before Extending an Offer

Congratulations on making a selection! But before you sign that offer letter, make sure you go over a few crucial items. What is the candidate’s motivation in joining your non-profit? Do you have references and how good are they? What about relocation and work-from-home arrangements? Does the financial compensation appear enough for the applicant, given his/her most recent income, age, and social status? Are there any legal aspects you need to be aware of, such as work authorisation, visa etc? There are no black-and-white answers here, but going over these aspects will ensure that you have a concrete idea of what kind of association you are about to kickstart.

On a sincere note, the suggested process is a humble attempt in debriefing a complex, intricate process of recruitment. The above instructions are intended to be a starting point for non-profits that do not have any hiring process in place. For those that need advanced insights, we recommend the following well-researched, renowned resources:

Who: The A Method for Hiring

Hiring for Attitude

The Bridgespan Group's Nonprofit Hiring Toolkit

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This post is the next in the series of addressing specific challenges non-profits face, and builds on top of earlier posts on acquiring the right talent and bridging skill gaps in non-profits.

How to Bridge Skill Gaps in Nonprofits

Training to Bridge Skill Gaps in Non-profits
Written by - 25 Sep 2018 Category: Non-profit Challenges

For non-profits to efficiently deliver on their chosen mission, everyone in the organisation - from first-rung board members to last-rung staff members - must be in a position to leverage the potential of new technologies  and ideas.

For non-profits to efficiently deliver on their chosen mission, everyone in the organisation - from first-rung board members to last-rung staff members - must be in a position to leverage the potential of new technologies  and ideas. However, the Stanford Survey on Leadership and Management in the Non-profit Sector reveals crucial skill gaps that exist in the sector. Organisation of work and talent management constitute the major elements of this lacuna. This post dives into a broad category of skills inadequacies that majority of non-profits face and offers remedial measures.

Three Common Skill Gap Areas

1. Formal Education

In today's age, information is freely available. Professionals with specific skills in demand can often find lucrative opportunities, even without a college degree. But this does not undermine the importance of formal education. This is especially true for clerical staff who can do wonders with a more organised mindset developed through rigorous academic coursework.

To that effect, non-profits must encourage their staff to continue learning. Platforms such as Coursera make available high-quality instruction material from leading universities around the globe. These courses are often free; some paid courses can also be considered if one is interested in earning a degree or a certificate at the end of a qualifying exam. A good news for the non-profit sector is that Coursera has a separate section - called Coursera for Governments and Organizations - which caters to the specific needs of the social sector.


2. Technology and Data Skills

Technology and data skills are becoming more central to any organisation than ever before. This necessitates some level of technology familiarity in the non-profit staff. This is not as easy as it seems when we consider the fact that even technology professionals are striving hard to keep pace with the rapidly changing technical landscape. To expect non-profit staff to obtain absolute mastery of technical skills is neither practical, nor necessary. A balance point can be easily obtained with the help of basic training in commonly used technologies and tools.

To get going, operational understanding of the following utility tools will ensure that a non-profit is self-reliant in day-to-day operations and technical troubleshooting.

For Documents and Data

Google Drive/DropBox for centralised data storage

Google Sheets for spreadsheets

Google Docs for documents

Tableau/PowerBI for data analysis

For Collaboration

Slack for quick team chatting and collaboration

Trello for task management

Asana for team and project management for video conferencing

For Website and Communication

Wordpress for website content management

Google Analytics for website traffic analytics

MailChimp for email marketing

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn for social media engagement

For Staff Management

CiviHR for core HR functionalities - staff profiles, leaves and absences, tasks management, reports and dashboard etc

Quickbooks for Accounting

All the above tools are user-friendly and learning them should not be a challenge for any individual with basic computer skills. Integrating these tools into your daily work practices is where the trick lies.


3. Managerial Skills

Non-profits often fail to invest in crucial leadership development. In the recent Non-profit Leadership Report, only 20% non-profits claimed to be confident in their leadership. 70% of non-profit leaders planned to leave their jobs in the next 5 years. It is evident that there is an urgent need to fix these leadership gaps.

The core issue is not so much of leaders' ability, but rather the lack of planned development efforts. Non-profit leaders need to set clear, objective goals - in terms of the number of lives touched, turnover, costs, or any other parameters that are important to their mission. These goals then need to be drilled down to specific skill gaps that may prevent these goals from materialising. If "reaching a donor base of 1000 donors by the year-end" is a goal, non-profit executives must assess their skills with respect to marketing their donor programmes to the masses. At the leadership level, it would require strategic networking, public relations, and public speaking skills. The leaders must work on any identified gaps in this direction. Also, for leadership development to be a long-term success, current top-rung leaders must identify and nurture in-house leadership talent.

To conclude, building a skill-development programme must be a high-priority action item for any non-profit that lacks such an initiative. There are different ways in which one can proceed, but focussing on skills that directly facilitate the core mission or resolve immediate stumbling blocks must be the first step towards progress.

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This post is the next in the series of addressing specific challenges non-profits face, and builds on top of earlier posts on acquiring the right talent, addressing volunteer management challenges, and effectively managing a remote workforce.

How to Effectively Manage A Remote Workforce

Working from home
Written by - 18 Sep 2018 Category: Non-profit Challenges

Gone are the days when working from home was a novelty. In the age of the internet, most organisations have recognised the benefits of remote working arrangements.

Gone are the days when working from home was a novelty. In the age of the internet, most organisations have recognised the benefits of remote working arrangements. Work from home can increase productivity, lower office expenses, and even enhance employee retention, among other things. However, this does not mean that remote working is always welcome. There are everyday challenges that make many organisations stay away from having a remote working team. In this article, we will look at some of these difficulties and discuss ways in which non-profits can overcome them.

There are three basic challenges in effectively managing remote work. The best way to ensure smoothly-running remote work is to think about them while initiating a remote work arrangement. But how? Let's dive into how non-profits can address these challenges while adopting remote work as a part of their culture.

Measuring Work Done

The first question that really worries a manager is: how do I know my work is getting done if I do not see someone in the office? It is not an outrageous concern. After all, how does a manager know if all the emails that were to be sent out to volunteers were indeed sent? Did the meeting between Tom and Alice conclude on the recruitment roadmap?

Answers to these questions are easy to get when the work is quantifiable i.e. measured against some number that is verifiable. If the task was to send emails to volunteers, a response such as "115 emails were sent and can be seen in the Sent Items folder" is irrefutable. The manager has no further worries. One has to take more caution in subjective matters though. While "Tom and Alice's meeting proposed a recruitment roadmap which is presented in this document" may sound like a task completed, it is actually the quality and completeness of the proposed roadmap that will determine whether the task was completed in spirit.

Objective, traceable, independent work items are best suited for remote work. If you can clearly describe a job as "Producing X amount of something", it can be effectively managed remotely. For other jobs, pure working from home may not be the best arrangement.


Collaborating With Remote Workers

The above-mentioned meeting between Tom and Alice is a bad candidate for remote work because of another reason - collaboration. IBM and Yahoo, one time advocates of remote work, have begun rolling back their policies because not all type of collaboration is done well over the internet. It may seem counter-intuitive that electronic communication is instantaneous, and yet lacking in collaboration. The answer here lies in the ‘power of presence’. The subtleties of human presence - the body language, the voice tone, the eye contact, the sense of seriousness and even humour - all help in creating an ‘experience’, as opposed to just ‘information’. If a team needs a debate or a brainstorm (i.e. an experience), personal meetings are the best. If a team needs a status report or a presentation demo (i.e. information), video conferencing can work well.

What does this mean to your remote work policy? Basically, judge for yourself what kind of collaboration your tasks need and whether remote team members can contribute well to them. Also think about splitting your task into two segments - one to be done remotely by individuals, and other to be done collaboratively in person. An example of the same can be designing a website - your team can come together and discuss, debate, and agree on a design, which can then be developed remotely by the technical team. The process can be done iteratively until the project is over.


Lack Of Feeling Of Cohesiveness And Trust

Maintaining healthy relations among remote workforces is a challenging task. An obvious answer is to keep everyone engaged and interacting with one another. This can be done via different technology platforms. Encourage team members to chat in Slack channels, ask for team meetings to take place over video-conferencing and not mere phone calls, or have Friday Fun online meetings for everyone to share some fun facts about them that week. The idea is to make everyone see everyone else as a 'person' and not just 'an email ID' or a 'phone number'.

We must note that such meetings are not an instantaneous catalyst in building people-to-people connections. At the onset, the meetings may seem burdensome, with people not knowing what to expect or how to contribute. With time, however, a certain culture will evolve, and one must ensure consistent efforts for the culture to sustain. In fact, such lack of consistency is often considered one of the reasons for IBM's failure to optimise its remote workforce.


The last tip to make all of the above work together is to offer remote work only to those individuals who are suitable for it. If someone lacks self-motivation, or needs someone else to handhold, or just loses focus every now and then, that person will not produce quality work, even if all of the above, and other similar best practices, are in place. So, go only with the right personality type!

Have you tried remote work practices in your organisation? What have been your experiences? We would love to hear from you!

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This post is the next in the series of addressing specific challenges non-profits face, and builds on top of the earlier post on managing volunteers.

About CiviHR

CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere.


CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere.