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5 Ways to Attract Candidates to a Nonprofit

5 Ways to Attract Candidates to a Nonprofit

According to the Independent Sector, there are nearly 1.6 million nonprofit organizations registered in the United States. They employ 10% of working Americans and comprise the third-largest workforce in the nation.

Often considered pillars of the community, especially in the case of academic or cultural institutions, some nonprofits can rely on their name recognition for recruiting purposes. Others can benefit from some professional tips.

Having partnered with many nonprofit clients seeking facilities professionals, Helbling search consultants Jim Lord (Executive Director – Northeast) and Lee Grandovic (Regional Manager – New York City) offer this advice for those in hiring mode.

1. Tell your story.

Use examples of people you have helped and supplement that with statistics about accomplishments. Include this information in a position description for the role. Hiring managers now expect candidates to illustrate and quantify accomplishments on a resume but often forget to depict their organization’s accomplishments in a similar manner. Putting together a compelling story for potential employees does not have to be difficult. This information may already exist in an annual report for the board of directors, in a media kit, as part of an orientation packet for volunteers, or even as a mailing to donors.

2. State your mission.

Utilize your mission statement in all communications. Be very clear about what your organization represents and include its vision for the future. Lord remembers why a candidate was so passionate about working for a hospital, “It’s really easy to get behind the mission when the mission focuses on treating sick children. The client’s cause was near and dear to the candidate’s heart and resulted in him being a long-term employee.”

Grandovic echoed that the enormity of a mission elicits an emotional response from candidates and can be a primary motivator for them.

3. Look outside of nonprofit organizations.

Some nonprofit hiring managers believe that candidates need to have experience managing a nonprofit facility to thrive. Both Lord and Grandovic have seen smooth transitions by candidates coming from varied backgrounds. 

Professionals from the military and government already have a servant leadership mentality in which helping their team grow and building a community are priorities. Someone coming from a corporate environment also has a lot to offer. Those who are used to reporting on profitability to shareholders may have a sense of accountability that is highly desirable to nonprofit executives.

4. Communicate assets and new initiatives.

“Some nonprofits have tremendous real estate assets. In New York City, for example, five of the largest landowners are nonprofits,” said Grandovic. “Our team secured the head of residential operations at a prestigious university. He left the corporate sector for the opportunity to manage the university’s robust real estate portfolio. In a city where real estate sells at a premium, that can be a very exciting opportunity for the right candidate.”

Regardless of your geographic location, Lord recommends telling the story of your buildings especially if they are historically or architecturally unique. “There are a number of candidates who have an appreciation for historic buildings and will take pride in preserving and managing them,” he said.

The opportunity to lead a new initiative is also attractive to candidates looking to make a career move. Explain what changes or improvements are in the works including those surrounding capital projects. Depending upon the nonprofit’s goals, the new facilities leader may have greater responsibility than in previous roles and an ability to make a lasting impact on the organization.

5. Be fair and creative with benefits.

Do not expect candidates to flood your organization with applications if the salary is less than desirable. “More than ever before, candidates have a heightened fiscal awareness and are aware of market conditions,” explained Grandovic. “While money should not be a candidate’s main motivator, it is rare to find someone willing to accept a decrease in pay.”
If operational budgets limit the salary for a position, consider other work perks, arrangements, or advantages that may be attractive to candidates seeking a new opportunity. Lord observed that even though facilities professionals are always on call, many nonprofits have a less-pressured culture than their corporate counterparts. “There is often a more manageable schedule offering a better work-life balance. That is very enticing to prospective candidates looking to make a change.”

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