Staffing Your Nonprofit: 5 Qualities to Look for When Hiring
Is your nonprofit expanding? Are you transitioning executive leaders? Do you need help hiring a new team member? The hiring process can be scary, but when you find the right person for your team it makes a world of a difference for your organization.
After ironing out the fundamentals concerning your new hire, put together a list of desired qualities for the position.
Your new hire should have:
- Passion for the mission.
- Leadership potential.
- Specific knowledge of the position.
- Excellent communication skills.
- Motivation for success.
Finding a candidate with all these qualifications might seem picky, but your nonprofit is worth it. Candidates who qualify for this position are worth searching for.
Nonprofit consultants can help you fill job openings, including top positions in the nonprofit such as major gifts officers, development directors, capital campaign directors and more.
Consider these five qualifications in your next staffing venture to ensure you have a successful new employee!
1. Passion for the Mission.
Make sure your new hire is in line with your mission.
Employees who align with the ultimate goal of an organization are more likely to work harder for you. Your mission should be your number one concern as your nonprofit expands or transitions, so be sure to keep it in mind.
To ensure you get a candidate who embodies your mission, you should:
- Make sure your mission statement is clear. Look at the mission statements of other nonprofits to compare and make sure yours is just as concise and in line with what you believe.
- Include the mission statement in your job posting. Make it easy for candidates to find your mission statement when they are looking at potential jobs.
- Ask about your mission in the job interview. Make sure the people you interview are aware of your stated mission and agree with it completely. Doing this in the initial job interview makes it easier to get a read on your potential hires.
Your mission is very important to your organization. Therefore, it should also be very important to your employees.
When your employees are motivated by your mission, they are more likely to work hard to achieve it. And who doesn’t want a hard-working employee?
2. Leadership Potential.
Whether you are hiring someone to fill an entry-level position or you’re hiring an executive, potential for leadership is an important quality for a job candidate.
Leadership qualities in a candidate will benefit the nonprofit because:
- Those employees require minimal management. Leaders do not need to be micromanaged, so recruiting natural leaders for your staff will free up managers for more important tasks.
- They will spend minimal time in leadership training. While leadership training is a great resource, candidates who have natural leadership tendencies move through this training quickly and easily.
- Natural leaders tend to follow through. Those who are naturally inclined to leadership are also those who tend to dream up good ideas and follow through on them.
When you are hiring for entry-level positions, training tends to be more extensive because of limited experience. Therefore, entry-level candidates have more time to learn to be a leader.
However, it is easier for these new employees to learn to become a leader when they already have natural inclinations for it.
Luckily, with a nonprofit consultant by your side, your team doesn’t need to fill these top positions alone. Aly Sterling Philanthropy’s guide to nonprofit succession planning shows how a consultant can guide your team through this process.
3. Specific Knowledge of the Position.
It can be difficult to know what skill sets and knowledge a new hire should know on their first day and what can be learned on the job.
In order to come up with these ideas, take these steps to get organized:
- First, make a list of all the skills you want from someone in the available position.
- Next, divide these skills into knowledge-based skills and soft skills.
- Determine which of the skills you listed are high and low priority. High-priority skills are necessary to complete a job, while low priority skills can be learned on site.
For example, you may require a new hire to be creative and resourceful if their job involves finding new fundraising prospects. Or you may require a math wiz candidate for new accounting positions.
In the interview, take note if the candidate shows evidence of having high priority skills. Any of the low priority skills they also have are a bonus!
For example, a necessary skill for a corporate philanthropy officer to have on the first day of their job would be an understanding of matching gifts programs (or matching gifts software like Double the Donation). A less crucial (although still important) skill they could learn on the job is how to promote corporate philanthropy opportunities to your unique constituents.
4. Excellent Communication Skills.
Communication comes in many different forms and with many different audiences.
Strong communication makes for an effective work environment when people in the office are well-rounded in communication skills or highly skilled in their primary mode of communication used on the job.
In the interview, check for essential communication skills like:
- Verbal skills. Ask interview questions that will make the candidate think. See how articulate they are when under pressure or faced with a challenging question.
- Excellent writing ability. Writing skills are important for all jobs. However, if the position you are filling is especially writing-intensive, ask for writing samples or issue a short writing test to candidates to ensure their writing is clear and error free before they are hired.
- Nonverbal communications. In the interview, look for signals such as eye contact and body language to ensure the person is paying attention and appears confident.
Communication skills can make or break relations with everyone with whom your nonprofit corresponds.
However, this does not mean your employees must do everything from scratch!
Encourage your new hires to make their jobs easier by using communication resources. Templates can be helpful for speeding up regular communications. For instance, try using fundraising letter templates for quick writing.
After hiring someone, watch how they interact with others in the office, on the phone and over email to keep up with these communication skills.
5. Motivation for Success.
The combination of a passionate candidate and a natural leader will more than likely provide you with a candidate motivated to help your nonprofit succeed.
Successful nonprofits are led by motivated employees.
But is a motivation for your nonprofit’s success enough? Surprisingly, no. Individuals need personal motivation in order to drive your nonprofit to success.
Personal motivation from your employees ensures:
- Better service to your community. Motivation for the cause helps people perform with the beneficiary in mind, focusing their work on what is most important.
- Nonprofit growth. If your nonprofit is growing and expanding, your motivated hires will be a great source for new ideas and a great help moving forward.
- More efficient work at the workplace. Motivated work is efficient work. Motivated employees have a more pressing reason to do their job than simply a paycheck, so they tend to work harder.
Hiring someone who is already motivated is important, but you must also keep them motivated as time goes on.
To keep employees motivated, ask your new hire about what motivates them. Some people are motivated by public praise and others prefer private affirmations. Alternatively, some encourage frequent feedback to help drive their work forward.
Another driving factor for some employees is compensation. Offering employees similar compensation as they would receive in the for-profit sector may motivate them to do better work and stay around longer.
Maintain motivation through your daily work, long-term campaigns and all of your activities as an organization!
Hiring new people can be stressful and confusing for even the most experienced nonprofit organizations. These five essential qualities will help you narrow the pool of candidates to find the perfect hire for your nonprofit.