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3 Unique Challenges in People Management in Nonprofits

People management challenges in nonprofits
Written by shailesh@civihr.org - 28 Aug 2018 Category: Non-profit Challenges

Managing human resources in an organisation is tough, especially in the non-profit sector. As most non-profits are strapped for resources, their people management challenges are unique.

Managing human resources in an organisation is tough, especially in the non-profit sector. As most non-profits are strapped for resources, their people management challenges are unique. Without a strategy, non-profits are susceptible to lower productivity. In some cases, they may even shut down. The good news is that these challenges are not unsolvable if a few fundamentals are kept in mind.

In this series, we intend to throw light on some common challenges and suggest ways to overcome them. This particular article is the first in the series. It talks about the nature of non-profit HR challenges. The upcoming articles will talk more about individual challenges and their potential solutions.

Broadly speaking, non-profit people management challenges are characterised by constraints on three fronts.

Limited Finances

Non-profits, by nature, are not revenue-seeking entities. This makes them dependent on external funding. This has a negative impact on people management, because salaries are the biggest costs. What is the best way to deal with this problem? To work with individuals that are aware of low financial compensation, but are thrilled about other prospects! Training and development opportunities, better work-life balance, and telecommuting can be good incentives. The less a non-profit’s team members are affected by financial constraints, the stronger, and longer, will the non-profit go!

Difficulties in Talent Management

Unpaid volunteers and pro bono workers are the biggest backbone of non-profits. HR managers cannot always supervise volunteer work, which leads to loosely-connected reporting relationships. Further complications can arise because of staffing uncertainties in funded projects. Under such a scenario, it is only motivation that drives unpaid staff's long-term engagement. HR manager’s failure to identify, train, and motivate volunteer staff can lead to low organisational morale. A cost-friendly incentive structure can ensure repeated engagement from unpaid staff. So, thank volunteers for their genuine desire to work with the non-profit. How? Circulate a note of thanks over email, or just offer a plain cup of coffee!

Non-existence of a Dedicated HR Department

Non-profits often have a small, overburdened team that acts as the HR department. They manage joining and leaving formalities, employment documents, leave and benefits management etc.

These tasks can be overwhelming. There are several practices that can help develop strong HR competencies. Building people-independent practices, delegating responsibilities, and leveraging technology tools can produce immediate benefits.

The Way Ahead

While the above three main factors are challenging, they seldom appear in silos. A combination of them leads to tricky situations! In the upcoming articles, we will look at such situations and explore ways in which they can be overcome.

Until then, happy non-profiting!

 

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.

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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. 

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