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How to overcome the challenge of attracting talent to non-profits

Posted on 31/10/2019 by Matt Adams

Magnet attracting people

Attracting and retaining skilled workers is a difficult hurdle for any company to get over. However, for non-profits, this is particularly challenging. With fierce competition from well-known private firms, it’s becoming increasingly tough for charities to stand out. Because of this, organisations must work creatively to engage professionals. No matter how arduous this may be at the start, it can be achieved. Here’s how you can overcome the challenges of attracting talent to non-profits.

Skills shortage in the non-profit sector

Firstly, it’s important to grasp how severe the skills shortage in the sector is, and know why it must be treated with urgency. Talent shortage jumped from third to first place as the emerging risk for organisations worldwide going into 2019, according to 137 senior executives in Gartner, Inc.'s latest Emerging Risks Survey. The data revealed that most of the respondents (63%) said that a talent shortage, or talent risk, was their organisation's major concern and unsurprisingly, the non-profit sector was among those industries listing skills shortages as one of the top five risks. The situation is also expected to worsen in the near future, as 51% of fundraisers expressed in a recent survey that they will likely leave their current non-profits within two years.

What innovative charities are doing

To overcome the skills shortage and access a greater number of skilled employees, smart non-profits are turning to diverse and underutilised talent pools. For example, many disability charities, such as ScopeBack Up,  Action on Hearing Loss or Rethink Mental Illness, have chosen to employ a significant number of disabled staff. While this promotes a diverse and inclusive workplace, it also helps plug skills gaps. To attract more workers with a mix of strengths, firms need to carefully construct job ads so that they are not gender biased and contain inclusive language, as studies show there are “masculine” terms that may deter some women.

Brooke, is a great example of a charity which has innovative practices in place to attract more talent. The organisation, which supports working donkeys and horses, acknowledges that non-profits can’t always offer competitive salaries, and therefore offers a plethora of employee benefits. For example, it allows staff to buy or sell up to five days of their annual leave, take time off for studying or career development and provides education trips.

Overcoming attraction challenges in the non-profit sector

Despite charities not always being able to compete with organisations in the private sectors in terms of salaries, they are able to offer a host of other benefits, like flexibility. This is a perk that is becoming increasingly popular. There are numerous studies and surveys that have revealed that the younger generation, in particular, seek a better work-life balance, and non-profits must capitalise on this.

Job sharing

Although demand for flexible working is rising, the number of roles which provide unconventional and part-time hours has not been increasing at the same rate. Many of the top non-profit positions require full-time and permanent workers. Because of this, a lot of fundraisers are accepting less challenging roles just because they’re more flexible. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. With the help of our job sharing services, for example, professionals can buddy up and find a job that is not only rewarding, but also meets their work-life balance needs.

And we can’t doubt that the demand is there. We surveyed our clients on job sharing roles within fundraising teams. 94% of respondents would be open to considering a job share for any current or future vacancies within their fundraising team, with 38% of those respondents having already worked for an employer that has hired someone on a job share arrangement.

Here at TPP, we feel that job sharing must be part of the answer. With employers open-minded to recruiting job shares, not being able to (or not knowing where to) find a job share partner is a definite barrier – we are therefore delighted to offer a partnering service to any fundraising professional who is seeking part-time work. If you think job share could be the solution for live vacancies within your fundraising team find out more about our job sharing services.

Remember non-profits work with a purpose

In a recent Global Talent Trends study by Mercer, it identified three factors that employees and job candidates are looking for in a company: permanent workplace flexibility, a commitment to health and well-being and working with a purpose.

The latter option is often the reason why many people decide to work for charities, and non-profits must promote this more to combat the challenges of attracting talent to the sector. Most organisations in the industry were set-up with a mission and goal in mind. And by making noise about this from an employment perspective as well as for public support, companies will be able to source loyal employees that share the same vision.

If you’d like more information and help addressing the challenges of attracting talent to your non-profit organisation, get in touch with our expert team today on 020 7198 6000 or email