Top Nonprofit Recruiting Challenges and Strategies to Overcome Them

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Nonprofit work can be incredibly fulfilling for passionate mission-driven professionals, but it’s not right for everyone. Nonprofit recruiting teams have to work a bit harder to find and attract strong candidates while navigating limited staffing budgets and workforce shortages within the mental health and social services industries.

Thankfully, there are resources available to help simplify the nonprofit recruiting process and efficiently find the right candidates for your open roles. Learn how to navigate the top nonprofit recruiting challenges and build an effective talent acquisition strategy.

Top 3 Nonprofit Recruiting Challenges

Nonprofit recruiting: employee shaking hands with an applicant

There is plenty of great nonprofit talent out there, but there are a few barriers present that can make attracting qualified candidates challenging. Explore the biggest challenges below.

1. Lower Pay in the Nonprofit Sector

Nonprofit work is typically associated with two things: low pay and giving back to the community. Nonprofits often have to rely on fundraising and grants to maintain financial sustainability and do not have room in the budget to offer the competitive salaries that for-profits can offer. While candidates may be excited about the idea of supporting your nonprofit organization's mission and helping people, low pay may still deter them from putting in an application or accepting an offer.

2. Working With a Smaller Applicant Pool

Nonprofit organizations often have to work with a smaller candidate pool. The lower pay can be a contributing factor as many people filter job search results by pay range and will not even see your job posting if the listed salary is too low. However, another large contributor is the specialized skills required for many nonprofit roles.

Behavioral health and human services (BHHS) nonprofits, in particular, struggle with meeting their staffing needs due to the limited applicant pool. Healthcare occupations require very specific qualifications and credentials, so BHHS nonprofits have to compete over a small pool of top talent.

3. Keeping Up With High Turnover

Nonprofits often struggle with employee retention, and with higher turnover comes an increased need to find candidates to fill newly open roles. The Society of Human Resource Management found in their recent Human Capital Report that the nonprofit sector has a 30% average annual turnover rate overall and a 25% average annual voluntary turnover rate. With approximately one-fourth of your employees quitting each year, nonprofit recruiting teams have a lot of work to do to maintain adequate staffing levels.

Enhance the Nonprofit Recruiting Process With These 6 Strategies

Nonprofit recruiting: colleagues working together

While nonprofit recruiting does come with a specific set of challenges, there are strategies and tech solutions that you can use to overcome them. Here are six ways to improve your recruiting process.

1. Cast a Wider Net

If you’re having trouble finding qualified candidates, it may mean that you aren’t looking in the right places. Expanding your recruiting sources can help you reach a wider pool of candidates. Consider posting roles on several job boards, social media sites like LinkedIn, and your company’s own career page to help boost visibility. 

Posting to several sources can be time-consuming, but using a recruiting management tool, such as ContinuumCloud’s human capital management (HCM) platform, can simplify the process. With one-click job posting through our HCM and payroll software, you can send your job posting to major career sites like Monster and and your branded career page with just one click. This is a great way to expand your reach without having to manually post to multiple sites.

2. Set a Predetermined Budget for Open Positions

Nonprofit organizations should determine the salary range for each role at the very start of the talent acquisition process. For-profits often have a bit of flexibility and may be willing to pay more than expected for the right candidate, but nonprofits usually have to stay in budget, even if they find an unbeatable candidate. By setting a salary range early on, you can ensure that your budget aligns with candidates’ salary expectations.

ContinuumCloud’s HCM platform offers a unique feature called Position Control that helps organizations manage their hiring budgets. With Position Control, nonprofit professionals can assign attributes such as approved salary ranges, job descriptions, and credential requirements to positions rather than individual employees. 

Under this position-based framework, you aren’t attaching all of these attributes to individual employees and losing information when someone leaves. It also allows unfilled positions to remain factored into the annual labor budget.

Recruiters can use Position Control to access the data they need to create a job posting and can submit an in-platform request for approval before they post the role. Nonprofit human resources managers or executive directors can then use Position Control to quickly access information on position budgeting and labor spending for the fiscal year to ensure that there is room in the budget to fill the role at the expected salary before giving approval. 

3. Create an Organized Candidate Review Process

Keeping track of applications coming in from a bunch of different sources can get hectic. You don’t want to accidentally let a great candidate fall through the cracks because you missed their resume submission. Applicant tracking systems, like the ATS built in to ContinuumCloud’s HCM platform, help hiring managers and talent search committees stay organized while reviewing candidates. 

With an ATS, applications can be viewed on one user-friendly dashboard. Each member of the hiring team can rate candidates and leave comments to centralize application reviews and hiring team collaboration.

4. Streamline Communication

Being communicative and responsive to job seekers throughout the recruiting process is essential for creating a positive candidate experience. Having a centralized platform to manage candidate communication can help busy nonprofit hiring teams stay on top of incoming messages. With the applicant tracking system included in our HCM software, candidate communications can be handled in one location. Easily schedule interviews and notify applicants who were not selected to move forward with templated emails.

5. Put Your Recruiting Data to Work

Recruiting analytics are an untapped resource for many nonprofit organizations. ContinuumCloud’s business intelligence feature provides easy-to-understand data on key topics such as time-to-hire, time-to-fill, offer acceptance rates, and the number of applicants applying for each role.

These metrics can give you insight into inefficiencies or problems within your hiring process. For example, if you have a low offer acceptance rate, it could mean that you’re not being thorough enough in verifying early on that candidates’ expectations are aligned with what you can offer. In this circumstance, you may adjust your phone screening procedure to ensure that you’re asking about salary expectations and work preferences (e.g., remote, hybrid, or onsite), so that you have a better idea of whether they would accept an offer within your budget and staffing needs.

6. Highlight the Benefits Offered By Your Company

While offering higher pay isn’t in the budget for most nonprofits, you can help your job postings stand out by highlighting other tangible and intangible benefits that come with the position. Consider what you can offer that won’t break the budget. 

For example, flexible schedules and remote work options can be appealing to job seekers while not typically resulting in significant costs to the organization. Be sure to also highlight any employee benefits like health insurance. Of course, there are intangible benefits — like giving back to the community, helping people in need, and a positive work culture — that can be emphasized to attract job seekers too.

Choose the Right Technology to Support Your Nonprofit Recruiting Strategy

Nonprofit recruiting requires a different approach than for-profit recruiting, so naturally nonprofits also need different tech solutions. ContinuumCloud’s human capital management platform was built specifically to address the unique needs of behavioral health and human services nonprofits. Our team has been working with BHHS nonprofits for over 25 years and understands the challenges that come with nonprofit recruiting.

From streamlined hiring approval workflows to a built-in applicant tracking system, our HCM platform has the tools you need to find your next hire. Plus, with our unified system, applicant data can seamlessly flow into the candidate’s new employee file for a quick and easy onboarding process.

Contact us today to learn more about how ContinuumCloud can help your organization streamline its nonprofit recruiting process.

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