As we enter the last quarter of 2023, we reflect on the trends affecting recruiting in the nonprofit industry. Nonprofits are navigating a number of challenges – from new work habits to political currents – as they plan for greater impact in 2024.
Here are six key trends impacting recruiting in the nonprofit industry today.
We are seeing an increased demand for highly skilled leaders in human resources and people leadership. As organizations continue to settle into new ways of doing things, and as hybrid work and remote structures continue to pressure leadership to adapt, nonprofits are turning to search consultants to help them find seasoned, strategic HR leaders to help them manage people in new ways and build and grow teams, as well as the culture that binds them.
In a world where information – and the demand for it – seems endless, we see organizations responding to the call for more transparency in search processes. Nonprofits are increasingly using selection panels to collect insight and build buy-in for hires. While this addition can slow a search process, we find that nonprofits – and their new hires – benefit from the increased inclusivity and the diversity of views brought in by selection panels.
More than ever, candidates are leading with questions about work location and in-person requirements. Location is a factor nearly as important as compensation, and nonprofits who have not adopted hybrid or flexible work arrangements are losing out on candidates who grew accustomed to flexibility.
“As organizations continue to settle into new ways of doing things, and as hybrid work and remote structures continue to pressure leadership to adapt, nonprofits are turning to search consultants to help them find seasoned, strategic HR leaders to help them manage people in new ways.”
In general, nonprofit employees are liberal in politics and nature, and there are now certain states in the country – Florida, Texas, and Tennessee among them – where candidates will not work, and searches in these areas are becoming more challenging. This is a direct response to changing political environments and it’s having a serious impact on nonprofits, even those in cities with more liberal bents.
During the pandemic, many nonprofit executives postponed their retirements, and we are now seeing those leaders transition, creating a wave of demand for nonprofit CEOs. As a whole, the sector hasn’t invested enough in building successors and is suffering as a result. Skilled boards and hands-on engagement are needed more than ever to support organizations through post-pandemic executive transitions.
During Covid, there was a lot of government funding for nonprofits. While some suffered dramatic drops in funding, many others saw upticks in funding from individuals responding to the pandemic and political events. Others received seven- and eight-figure unrestricted donations from MacKenzie Scott. These waves of funding have stopped, and we anticipate many nonprofits making tough decisions as they re-adjust.
Nonprofit organizations staying ahead of these trends will find themselves in a position to strengthen their teams and advance their missions. As nonprofit executive search leaders, we understand the pressures facing the industry and are here to support mission-driven organizations through their most vital talent challenges.
DHR’s Nonprofit Practice provides senior-level retained executive search and leadership consulting services to a distinguished group of nonprofit organizations. The Nonprofit Practice Group consists of industry specialists, many of whom have spent much of their entire careers working in nonprofits or assisting nonprofits with executive search.