When it comes time to find new employees to join your nonprofit’s staff, you already know that a lot of work lies on the road ahead.


Whether it’s agreeing internally on what position(s) will be opening up, finding the right candidates to consider, and eventually deciding on who to bring onto your team, staffing your nonprofit can sometimes seem like one of the biggest challenges your organization will face.


Not sure where to start? Consider enlisting a nonprofit consultant to steer your team through this tough search.


With the right consultant, your nonprofit can rest assured that you’ll not only be able to find the best candidate for the job but also that you’ll gain new insight into the unique staffing needs of your organization.


In this article, we’ll go over some of the basics of bringing on a consultant to aid in your staffing search, starting with:


  1. The benefits of hiring a nonprofit consultant to manage your staffing search.
  2. How to align staffing expectations with your nonprofit consultant.
  3. What to expect from your nonprofit consultant during your staffing search.


Bringing on a new employee or employees can be tough, and whether you make the right or wrong hiring decisions during this process, your choices can have a real effect on your nonprofit’s ability to connect with donors and successfully fundraise.


Ready to learn more about how a nonprofit consultant can help you find the right new team member for your organization? Let’s dive in!


Bonus! Planning a capital campaign? You may need to hire new staff internally before your nonprofit is ready to take on this fundraising challenge. Learn more ways to get prepared for your next capital campaign over at Averill Fundraising Solutions!


Benefits of hiring a nonprofit consultant to manage your staffing search.

As your nonprofit starts to think of what it will take to start your staffing search, it may seem counter-intuitive to consider also finding the right nonprofit consulting firm to enlist as your partner in this process.


Depending on whether or not you’ve used a consulting firm before to aid in your fundraising efforts, it also might be a tough sell to your other team members. However, the benefits of having a consultant guide your hiring search far outweigh going it alone.


With the right consultant as your partner, your nonprofit can benefit from some of the following advantages as you look for qualified candidates to join your team:


  • Reduced political pressure. Because your consultant operates outside of your nonprofit’s internal ecosystem, you can trust that they won’t be influenced by pressures such as board expectations, friendships among staff members, etc. You’ll know that when they make recommendations, their only goal is to find the best candidate for the job.


  • Third-party perspective. Similarly, since your staffing consultant will be coming into the process as a relative outsider, they may be able to identify institutional needs that your team is unwittingly blind to. From this perspective, they might make strategic recommendations to solve problems that you hadn’t noticed or understood before they came on.


  • Broader fundraising expertise. One of the greatest benefits of enlisting a consultant during your staffing process is that they can offer a wide variety of expertise to your nonprofit. With a wealth of experience working with nonprofits of varying sizes and missions, they can apply what they’ve learned working with other clients to your nonprofit.


  • Wider net of professional contacts. Another asset that nonprofit consultants bring to the table is their access to pre-established professional contacts. While they may have a policy in place that prohibits recruiting staff from other clientele, they frequently help other nonprofits with their hiring searches so they’ll likely have a list of tried-and-true recruiters and headhunters to whom they turn.


  • Ability to focus on fundraising. Once you bring on a consultant to lead your staffing search, the biggest benefit you can enjoy is the ability to step back and focus on your fundraising goals. When you take on the hiring process alone, time, money, and other resources must be diverted. However, with a nonprofit consultant, you can let them take the lead.

Bonus tip! Sometimes, a nonprofit is faced with the particularly tricky problem of needing to fill a leadership position, such as an executive director. Staffing in cases like these is referred to as “executive search” and many nonprofit consultants offer targeted services to find these types of candidates for nonprofits.


How to align staffing expectations with your nonprofit consultant.

One of the most important parts of staffing your nonprofit is aligning expectations internally when it comes to the position your team is looking to fill.


Perhaps you’re looking to expand your team as your nonprofit experiences some unexpected growth. Or, you may be filling a position recently vacated by an employee who wasn’t able to keep up with the expectations of your nonprofit’s culture.


Regardless, before you can begin vetting candidates, it’s important to take the time to work with your nonprofit’s consultant to determine the type of professional you want to bring on, the needs of your various departments, and how you’ll go about securing the ideal employee.


As you work with your consultant, expect for them to lead you through the following phases as you prepare to begin your search:


  • Assembling a hiring team. One of the first priorities of your staffing search is assembling a hiring team or committee. This will be made up of internal leaders on your staff to advocate for the needs of their departments or projects, as well as important external voices such as your board members and key donors. The team should be directed by your nonprofit consultant.


  • Assessing staffing needs. As the preliminary phase of the hiring process commences, your staffing consultant will assess the hiring needs of your nonprofit from their perspective as a newcomer. Depending on the successes and failures of your fundraising strategy up to this point, they’ll identify some of the big-picture needs of your team to form a jumping off point.


  • Interviewing current staff members. To supplement their initial assessment, your consultant may interview key staff members to learn about their impressions of the staffing needs of your nonprofit. This part of the process is reminiscent of how a fundraising consultant would lead a feasibility study during the planning phase of a campaign.


  • Defining the position. Working in partnership with the hiring team, your nonprofit consultant will help develop and define the position or positions that will be filled. During this process, specifics of the job will be finalized as well as salary expectations, qualities of the desired candidate, and other important details that will shape the applicant pool.


  • Building a hiring strategy. Finally, your consultant will work with your hiring team to build an effective strategy for identifying and securing qualified candidates. This includes finalizing the language of job postings, setting a hiring timetable, and otherwise aligning expectations for how the search process will be implemented.


Bonus tip! In much the same way that a nonprofit consultant can help your team set a staffing strategy before you begin your official hiring search, a consultant can also help your team perfect your fundraising strategy before a big campaign.


What to expect from your nonprofit consultant during your staffing search.

Now that you’ve set things straight behind the scenes, the next part of the staffing process is conducting the actual search. With the help of your staffing consultant, you’ll work together to cast a wide (but strategic) net in order to ensure that you’ve identified as many qualified candidates as possible.


For many consultants, during this part of the process, they may lead the charge without requiring much input from your nonprofit itself. Depending on the hiring strategy you’ve agreed upon, they may simply identify candidates for your review, or even make final selections with your consent.


Regardless of what type of partnership your nonprofit has with your staffing consultant, be aware of some of the typical services offered by consultants during the search process:


  • Position promotion. This includes posting positions on job boards, reaching out to recruiters, or otherwise getting the word out about the job opening. This process can be time-consuming to take on without a staffing consultant and is the key area where their established professional contacts come into play.


  • Application processing. When applications begin to arrive, it can be daunting to search through them and identify the most qualified candidates. Your consultant can take the lead during this process by processing these applications, identifying preliminary candidates, and doing initial candidate research.


  • Candidate outreach. Once a core set of standout candidates have been identified, your consultant can begin to reach out to these individuals to set up interviews. The logistics of getting in contact with candidates can be another time-consuming part of the staffing search, so having your consultant as a resource in this process truly makes a difference.


  • Interviewing candidates. During the candidate interviewing process, your consultant may handle the interview entirely on their own or work with your hiring team to meet with the applicants. As interviews are completed, your consultant can help single out the most promising applicants for your team.


  • Candidate selection. To close out the process, your nonprofit’s consultant can either make final selections for your team or help guide your team through the selection process. With your consultant at the wheel of this decision, your nonprofit can rest assured that your new hire is truly the right person for the job.


Bonus tip! Finding the right staff members for your nonprofit depends upon having a motivated board. In fact, aligning your board’s commitment to philanthropy is a key part of fundraising success in general. With their unique insight, you’ll be better prepared to take on challenges like planning capital campaigns and annual campaigns, making solicitations to major donors and hiring new team members to bring your nonprofit to the next level.

Finding the right new employee to help achieve your nonprofit’s mission doesn’t have to be a stressful, time-consuming affair. By partnering with a nonprofit consultant, you can rest assured that you’ll bring on the right candidate for the job while still focusing on fundraising.

New call-to-action

Author Bio

Chad Peddicord’s experience includes more than 15 years collaborating, assisting, directing, and providing strategic guidance to not for profits. Having worked both as a consultant and a chief development officer, Chad brings a unique perspective to his role as Executive Vice President of Averill Fundraising Solutions. This point of view informs his collaborative approach in empowering clients to maximize opportunities and produces optimal results.