Is nonprofit hiring the next major challenge?

We are starting to see the emergence of two very interesting trends in the business world, following our recent experiences with the Covid pandemic.

I believe they may also have a significant impact on nonprofit hiring, along with recruiting board members and volunteers.

These two hiring trends are:

  1. The emergence of a hunt for more and higher skilled talent
  2. Individuals beginning to reassess their work/life priorities and personal values.


In the last year, a wide variety of demands have been placed on nonprofit leaders. They have been significant, complex, and unprecedented. We all thought there would be a return to normal when things would settle down. But as the pandemic lessens in areas, new challenges are surfacing.

Everyone has been stretched and tested like never before. Now as we look back we can evaluate how well staff, board members, volunteers… everyone did. In some cases, agencies may see the need to upgrade their talent — both in the board room and on staff.

This will result in some high performers leaving one agency to join another. You might even being trying to attract top talent to your agency right now.

Do you have top performers you’re at risk of losing? What can you do to keep them with you? Now is probably a good time to think about it and take any actions you feel necessary. 

Agencies are also at risk of losing high value staff, board members, and volunteers due to changing priorities. 

No doubt over the past year+ we’ve all had a lot of time to think about the direction of our lives, the way we spend our time, with whom, and what our legacy will be. This is especially true for those of us who unfortunately lost a family member or a loved one, regardless of the cause of death. I can’t imagine the impact on me if I’d lost a loved one whom I couldn’t even visit in person to say good-bye. 

The result of all this?

People are stepping away from their jobs and turning towards a simpler life, one in which they spend more time doing what they love. They are spending time with close friends and family. 

All this and more have people rethinking their priorities. In many cases, even leaving their jobs for something simpler and more personally rewarding, rather than focusing solely on financial rewards. 

Keep in mind, this could work either way for any nonprofit agency.

Some may find nonprofit hiring to be more challenging than in the past. Others may lose volunteers and staff or key board members. There are those who will decide a change is necessary. Agencies may gain new top talent who simply want to serve. Individuals that want off of the merry-go-round of chasing more money, may be looking for more meaning instead.

What can leaders do about this nonprofit hiring challenge?

For business CEO’s and nonprofit CEO’S/Executive Directors, you’ll need to stay close to your team and board to see if anyone is being impacted by these pressures. Basic management By Walking Around (MBWA) seems like a great idea to start, if you don’t already practice it. Check in with your team members. Do they seem distracted or disengaged, or possibly just suffering some burn-out?

Staff still working remotely? Schedule a quick coffee or lunch with each of your key individuals — from your staff and board. Find out how they are adjusting post-pandemic and what’s important to them. Learn their thoughts/perspective on the agency. Ask them how their family / friends are adjusting. You may find some of your biggest challenges center around recruiting board members.

If you get a sense some high value team members are struggling with these tradeoffs, you might try exploring how you can communicate their value to the agency, it’s clients and the community in general. Sometimes a shift in roles / responsibilities can go a long way to keeping talent on your team. 

Ready to Lead Your Nonprofit Better?

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