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Simple Steps For Hiring at a New Nonprofit



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So you’ve reached the point where you absolutely need more help with your new nonprofit. You’re feeling more confident in your funding prospects, and you’ve decided it’s time to hire staff.

Hey! Congratulations! You’ve hit a really exciting milestone.

nonprofit consulting agency assemble a committee to help review resumes when hiring for a new nonprofit

When you’re working with limited resources, every decision counts. On a small team, one new team member can make or break the dynamic of your organization.

You’ll be more successful in the long run if you structure your hiring process intentionally from the start.

Sketch your future organization

What does the future of your organization look like? Think through the next year, two years, five years, or more – what does your new nonprofit look like after that time has passed?

Take a minute to sketch the ideal organizational chart of the future. What does it look like when your nonprofit has full capacity to meet its goals?

Identify your first step

Contrast your long-term plan with the reality of where you are right now. Identify the role or roles critical for you to fill right now. If you have the administrative work covered, maybe the help you need most is someone to implement your programming.

Or, if you’re more hands-on with your program participants, maybe your ideal first team member has experience in operations or development.

Draft your job descriptions

Identify your key tasks and group them together. Decide whether you need to hire at the staff or managerial level. For example, are you looking for a coordinator to implement an existing afterschool curriculum? Or do you need someone at the director level to design it, too?

When you’re hiring for a new nonprofit, avoid the kitchen sink approach to writing a job description. Clear the pipes by listing all the qualities of your dream candidate – and then bring it back down to earth by scrapping unnecessary items.

A good example of this is formal education. Is a degree genuinely necessary for the role, or is it enough for a candidate to demonstrate experience or enthusiasm? Can you set aside professional development funds to help an otherwise awesome candidate secure certifications or additional training?

Consider your budget and sustainability

Your budget will be the real determinant of the new staff you’ll bring on. Start by exploring market rates in your area and make sure you can afford the position.

Ensure Compliance

Your nonprofit is responsible for complying with employment laws, some of which apply to the hiring process. To protect your agency and your applicants, it’s important to know and understand applicable federal and state employment laws. Do not skip this step! A proactive approach will save your nonprofit from facing problems and wasting resources down the line.

For more information on employment law, visit and the Department of Labor online. You can also connect with your State’s Nonprofit Association; find yours here.

Congratulations! You’ve done your pre-planning, and you’re ready to start the hiring process.