The nonprofit sector is growing faster than the for-profit sector, financial and public support has been at an all-time high, and hiring for nonprofits continues to grow, according to PNP Staffing Group’s 2015-2016 Nonprofit Salaries & Staffing Report. More than half of Abila’s Nonprofit Finance Study respondents reported that growth is extremely important to them. This trend impacts organizations of all sizes, not just medium and large nonprofits. One of the biggest impacts to an organization when experiencing or planning for growth is personnel, both in recruiting and retention.

Organizations that invest in quality talent and retention tactics will see a return on that investment by seeing a positive impact in job performance, but also on their mission. Many people who leave their jobs at a nonprofit are likely to stay in this sector, so it’s possible and probable that you’ll be able to attract staff that have previous nonprofit experience.

However, nonprofits are facing real challenges in competing for talent against for-profit companies, mainly around salary. There are many actions a nonprofit can take to compete with for-profit companies beyond salary, and a nonprofit can research competitive salaries against other nonprofits to stay competitive in the same market.

Retention is another challenge for nonprofits. The 2016 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey noted that 84 percent of nonprofits surveyed do not have a retention strategy. The financial impact of high turnover should urge organizations to create a retention strategy. The cost is both real and high in terms of recruiting, hiring, training, onboarding, and more.

It’s time to up your game when developing your recruitment and retention strategies for 2018, as you’ll be competing with for-profit companies in the same talent pool. While working on your 2018 recruitment strategies, ensure that you develop programs to attract a diverse workforce. Our nation’s demographic is changing and nonprofits need to reflect that change. A focus to attract and retain employees under 30 is also critical, since they have become the largest demographic in the workforce since 2015.

Many nonprofits face limited budget resources when looking at recruitment strategies, but there are many cost-effective ways to attract and retain talent. One of the first things a nonprofit can do is to create a “brand” that attracts talent. When recruiting new staff, be sure to promote those aspects of your organization that include innovation, growth, flexibility and other aspects that are attractive to prospective employees.

2018 Recruitment Strategies

  • Develop an employee recognition program. Employee recognition programs recognize and reward work and behaviors that further the organization’s mission and goals. Make it easy, transparent, and accessible.
  • Offer flexible work options. Some 80 to 90 percent of the U.S. workforce would like telecommuting options at least part time. Flexible work options are particularly attractive to Millennials.
  • Create new leadership opportunities. Millennials look for organizations that provide leadership and growth opportunities. Look at providing mentorship programs, as well as projects people can lead.
  • Provide professional development tracks. All prospective employees are looking at growing their skills. Look to provide training and other means to help employees gain certifications, training programs, and more.
  • Foster an environment of innovation and collaboration. Ensure your organization is open to new ideas and promote that culture in your recruitment literature.
  • Determine a succession plan. Most organizations don’t plan on employee attrition, so when someone leaves, it not only creates a gap in knowledge, but can even open up the organization to risk. Creating a succession plan not only reduces risk, but can open opportunities for advancement.

Most importantly, during your budgeting process, don’t forget to build a plan for growth to include personnel costs, as well as retention and recruitment programs. By thinking about your organization’s 2018 trajectory and planning your recruitment and retention strategies now, you will set your organization up for success.