Overcoming hiring challenges as a not-for-profit

In today’s digital marketplace, there is no better way to connect with the world than through digital marketing. The scope and capabilities of digital marketing are growing rapidly and the potential benefits for businesses are vast.
The not-for-profit sector has long experienced challenges when it comes to recruiting top candidates. In a world where countless not-for-profits, all supporting fantastic causes, are seeking support and funds from similar pools of supporters, donor fatigue is commonplace. It is essential to effectively communicate your purpose with the market to develop more invested followers and to encourage more volunteer work from the wider community.

Key challenges charities face when hiring

For a not-for-profit organisation, increasing awareness is crucial. Digital marketing is the most effective solution to do this. Digital specialists play a vital role in developing user-friendly websites with positive user experiences and then ensuring that traffic is directed to these websites. 
These are some key challenges that a not-for-profit may experience when recruiting digital marketing professionals.
Competition for candidates
Digital marketing is now a fundamental function for organisations of every size, within every industry, right around the world. With the requisite skill sets in high demand, competition for good candidates is fierce. Not-for-profits are not only competing for digital talent among one another but with every business that has a digital marketing team or a need for digital skills.
When recruiting for new employees, the budgets not-for-profit organisations allocate to positions are often too low. Allocating a budget or salary for a role that does not reflect the true market value of a position will restrict your candidate pool. If you are recruiting for a senior role and are advertising a salary that is more suitable for a mid-level manager, then you aren’t likely to attract the top senior digital professionals you want and need. 
Timelines and slow processes
Typically timelines are tight and hires are needed urgently but the recruitment processes are often stretched over several interviews, and decision-making times are too slow. The effect of this is that, ultimately, not-for-profits tend to miss out on top talent. Long processes can be a real turn off to candidates. Waiting around to hear whether or not you have been successful in an interview is stressful and can make a candidate question their decision to apply for the role in the first place. The uncertainty can lower an applicant’s confidence as an extended process may suggest that you are unsure of hiring them. Many top candidates will receive multiple job offers and can certainly be swayed by a rapid offer when comparing two roles. 

Overcoming hiring challenges

Balancing your hiring budget and finding candidates with the right skills and enough experience to fill your roles can be difficult. SMEs and global blue-chip companies have the reputation, experience and budgets to attract and retain some of the leading talent in the digital market. They have fast hiring processes and often offer their preferred candidate a position within days of meeting them.
However, not-for-profit organisations do have one significant advantage when it comes to hiring; purpose, and this can be used as a drawcard in the hiring process. 
Businesses operate for a profit, whereas not-for-profits operate to serve a greater cause. One thing that millennials are especially interested in when seeking a new job is a sense of purpose; a role that allows them to have a positive impact. Be sure your mission and vision are clearly communicated to appeal to those professionals who are also passionate about your cause.
Speaking to a recruitment consultant before you start a hiring process can help you identify the roles you need and they can also advise you on what salary range you should expect to pay.
You can also conduct an independent salary survey to find out what the roles you are looking to recruit are worth. In addition to this, look at what your competitors are doing or how other not-for-profit organisations are attracting talent. 
Understand your digital needs
Before you rush to recruit a new digital specialist, understand which skills will be the most beneficial for your organisation. If you are hiring digital talent for the first time, you will need a digital hiring strategy. Depending on what stage you are at with your digital transformation, you will need to determine which skills you need to recruit first. Bringing in key senior positions such as a head of digital, head of content and head of CRM is a great place to start. These senior leaders can then expand your team based on your organisation’s needs and budget.
Increase your digital presence
If you are recognised as having a strong social media presence, engage your audience through innovative digital campaigns and participate in digital networking, you will raise your digital profile. The more you are seen in the digital market, the better placed you will be to attract digital talent.
Relatively new to the digital scene, not-for-profits are often still learning what skills they need and what the potential ROI’s of digital marketing roles are. As you become more experienced and continue working with digital specialists, your knowledge of digital roles and confidence in hiring such professionals will grow. As a result, your hiring processes should become more efficient and streamlined, allowing for much swifter offers to be made.
The interview
When meeting candidates, the key is to be transparent about your ambitions in terms of digital; what your strategy is, what you want to achieve, whether you are looking to expand your team and how you see it adding value to your operation. These conversations are important as they highlight to potential employees the challenges and subsequent opportunities within your organisation. Be upfront with them about timelines so they know to expect a longer process than they might be accustomed to and always give feedback to unsuccessful candidates.
If you would like more information or to discuss how we can help with your recruitment processes, please contact Tichaona Moyo, Senior Consultant Not for Profit and Public Sector Michael Page Digital.
Tichaona Moyo
T: +44 207 269 2587