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5 tips for creating and developing nonprofit staffing roles

March 16, 2022
A group of six nonprofit professionals stand in front of a gray brick wall and smile after finalizing their nonprofit staffing needs.

Hiring core staff members is an important part of your nonprofit organization’s success, and effectively conceptualizing these positions is equally important.

When developing entirely new positions, your organization will likely need to deviate from the traditional hiring process. Instead, your team must envision not only the purpose of this new role but also what skills and qualifications you will be looking for in a candidate.

If you’re looking to develop new nonprofit staffing roles, follow these five steps to keep your team on track.

1. Assess your need for new nonprofit staff

Before commencing your search for job candidates, take a step back and examine why your nonprofit is in the market for a new position in the first place. Some helpful questions to answer include:

  • Where do you see your nonprofit in five, 10, and 20 years?
  • Which tools, resources, or programs will benefit your long-term success?
  • How can you build or reshape nonprofit staffing to accomplish new goals?

During this process, consult your entire nonprofit staff for additional input for building a new role. Many of your staff will undoubtedly work closely with your new hire, so having a group consensus on what you’re looking for will prepare them for your expanding your team and boost efficiency.

2. Assemble a nonprofit staffing search committee

Once your nonprofit staffing priorities are in order, your next step is to assemble an executive search committee. A search committee is a group of nonprofit professionals who each offer unique strengths to identify and hire new nonprofit employees.

This committee should have individuals with a range of nonprofit experiences and skills to provide diverse feedback in shaping and hiring your new team member. Your nonprofit should remain conscientious of committee members with the potential for bias towards potential candidates, or who don’t contribute to group decision-making.

Instead, be on the lookout for potential search committee members who:

  • Are a key stakeholder in your nonprofit (board members, grantmakers, and senior staff)
  • Have a track record of recognizing and training top-performing nonprofit employees
  • Have sufficient time to attend meetings and discuss group processes
  • Are passionate about your nonprofit’s current and future goals

In addition to accomplished nonprofit employees and board members, your organization can also reach out to major donors and sponsors to join your executive search committee if the new hire will be working with them regularly.

3. Write a nonprofit staffing job description

Now it’s time to draft a detailed job description that both informs and attracts qualified applicants. An effective job description will be professional while showing your nonprofit’s personality to represent the role and your company culture.

To begin, your nonprofit team must effectively communicate the position’s responsibilities and daily duties, which could include:

  • Interacting with staff and constituents via email, phone, or in-person meetings
  • Answering donor and staff inquiries in a timely fashion
  • Researching and stewarding donors with prospect research tools
  • Creating donor solicitation or marketing materials for the fundraising team
  • Using integrated nonprofit technology for fundraising, marketing, and donor management

Incorporating routine tasks as well as big-picture objectives into your job description will give candidates a clear idea of their day-to-day experiences at your nonprofit.

Don’t forget to mention the role’s education and experience requirements. Given the interpersonal and hands-on nature of nonprofit work, it’s best practice to place higher importance on valued experience while also considering fundraising credentials.

Finally, be sure to include a downloadable resource with your job description to showcase on online nonprofit job boards. These branded documents are easy for applicants to print and store to reference key information. They also give you the opportunity to provide more information on your organization’s purpose, background, and application procedure.

4. Prepare a nonprofit staffing interview procedure

The foundation of your interviews will depend on the capability of your search committee and the quality of your questions. Your nonprofit staffing search committee will be championing your executive search initiatives by:

  • Reviewing candidates’ applications and performing background/reference checks
  • Prepping for each round of interviews and staying on track with hiring timelines
  • Advancing finalist applicants in the hiring process

Your executive search committee should prioritize having an in-depth understanding of these hiring stages and how they can coordinate them in the most efficient fashion.

In addition to managing the flow of interviews, your search committee is also responsible for devising interview questions that analyze a candidate’s nonprofit history and passion for philanthropic work.

Some perceptive questions you can ask include:

  • How diverse is your nonprofit experience?
  • How would you steward donors?
  • What is your experience with planning and executing major fundraisers?
  • What are your top strategies for promoting a fundraiser?
  • What are some of your favorite nonprofit software and technologies?
  • How do you plan to acquire and retain volunteers?

Above all, your sample interview questions should address the scope of a candidate’s experience while engaging their personality to determine if they suit your nonprofit’s needs.

5. Organize a nonprofit staff training strategy

With the interview process behind you and the ideal candidate selected, your nonprofit can move forward to the final stage of nonprofit staffing: onboarding.

An efficient onboarding experience is critical to the success of the new employee, especially if they are taking on a brand new position. It is important to provide your new hire with an abundance of training resources and assistance. Thus, your nonprofit should have a capable onboarding committee in place to educate your new hire on their budding role as well as standard organization policies and procedures.

As a team, your onboarding committee can successfully delegate training tasks and field your new hire’s questions by:

  • Explaining independent work vs. collaborative work processes.
  • Reviewing communication policies with staff and constituents.
  • Walking through scheduling procedures.
  • Arranging one-on-one check-ins with supervisors.

You should provide your new hire with a designated workstation and easy-to-access print and digital resources to aid them in their role transition. For instance, your onboarding team can compile a cheat sheet of practical tools and apps to simplify a variety of tasks including:

  • Task management. Schedule appointments and reminders, send emails, and create shareable online projects with the Microsoft/Outlook suite or Google’s G Suite.
  • Consistent engagement. Design and send emails, newsletters, and annual appeals using templates and analytic tracking on MailChimp or Constant Contact. You can also control and automate social media postings from platforms like Hootsuite.
  • Publishing content. Utilize a host of blog platforms or content management systems like WordPress or Drupal. You can also create eye-catching visual media with other free online tools.

Instruct your new hires on how to make the most of these technological resources as well as your existing online fundraising software, nonprofit CRM, and more.

A final note about nonprofit staffing

There’s no doubt that establishing new staffing roles is an exciting time for your nonprofit because it signifies your overall growth and upcoming success. Design and recruit the exemplary nonprofit team your organization deserves by following these steps.

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