How non-profit employers can best attract, retain talent

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In most parts of the country, the job market is improving. The current unemployment rate fell to 4.6% in November 2016, which means that employees are becoming harder to recruit and retain.

Recruiting and retaining high-caliber employees is just one of the challenges that employers, and in particular non-profits, will face over the next five to 10 years. Other key challenges will be engaging and having success with increasingly influential social media, and remaining in compliance as government regulations evolve under the Trump administration. Here are some things for non-profit employers to keep in mind to ensure they are moving in the right direction in the coming years.

A shrinking unemployment rate means there are more choices for job seekers than ever. This makes it vital for non-profits to compete with their for-profit counterparts when it comes to recruiting and retaining employees.

Many non-profits struggle to find the right talent because they typically don’t have the budget to compete with for-profit companies on salary. But research from LinkedIn shows that 75% of professionals in North America say they’re open to working in the non-profit arena. The challenge becomes knowing where to find passionate professionals open to non-profit opportunities and clearly communicating the organization’s purpose.

Increasingly, recruitment is changing. It’s vital for non-profit recruiters to find job seekers on job boards, but also to be actively searching for candidates on social media like LinkedIn and Twitter.

Then, it’s up to you to tell the story of your organization. Incorporating your mission statement across digital and social channels, as well as job descriptions, is a start. Creating a comprehensive careers area on your website with employee testimonials can also help you find the right passionate people to join your cause.

Competing on salary
Closely related to recruiting the right talent is being able to compete with for-profit companies and other non-profits when it comes to compensation. However, employers can provide a rich benefits package to create a more comprehensive compensation package for employees.

Non-profit organizations can also use benchmark data available in their region to ensure that they are offering competitive salaries compared to their non-profit and mission-driven peers. Many state and regional associations of non-profit organizations collect this information on a regular basis to help non-profits ensure they’re offering a competitive salary for their job role and region.

Without the right employees driving the organization, you could face high turnover rate, which can cost the organization time and money spent filling vacancies.

Understanding millennial influence
By most accounts, the millennial generation has a keen focus on having a positive social impact. The challenge for non-profits is learning how to harness the power of this generation.

Non-profit organizations, like businesses in most industries, are faced with several generations in the workplace. This may mean that you’ll have to learn to deal with the dynamics of a baby boomer working alongside a millennial. But it also means you’ll have to understand how to engage millennials as non-profit donors, volunteers, employees and leaders.

Millennials want to make an impact and they want to feel like their work is purposeful, which is great news for employers who are eager to find motivated employees.

Staying compliant
Compliance has become more of an issue for just about every business, but non-profits with small teams may find it more difficult to keep up with changes.

Employee classification is one compliance area that non-profits often struggle with — and the IRS has increased enforcement of these classifications, which can lead to penalties and back tax payments. Non-profits must follow federal and state rules on how independent contractors and employees are defined — though your non-profit organization may classify a worker as an independent contractor, he or she may be considered an employee under federal and state guidelines.

Non-profit organizations should ensure that they’re covering employees who may become unemployed. Organizations with a 501(c)(3) designation can opt out of paying state unemployment tax to realize cost savings and instead reimburse individual employees if and when they become unemployed. To mitigate this risk and cover reimbursement, organizations can also seek out insurance solutions to cover reimbursement costs.

Using technology for fundraising
Staying on top of technology for fundraising and engaging with donors is a key factor in growing today. With the creation of fundraising tools — both independent sites like Indiegogo and the technology to incorporate it into your website easily — non-profits must keep up with trends to continue growing.

This means investing in fundraising technology that will engage the ready-and-willing millennial audience without alienating them. Make sure your software is secure and the experience is customer-focused so donors can submit payments without technical glitches or security worries.

This also means updating your website and social channels frequently to attract the right audience. Millennials reported that updated web content plays a part in their decision to donate.

It’s also vital to communicate effectively with donors through email and social media. Millennials prefer to receive email communications about fundraising efforts. But as with any type of marketing, it’s crucial to strike the right balance of emails for your audience. Nearly three-quarters say they receive too many emails from organizations they support.

Sharpening your focus in these areas can help you build a strong team, improve communication efforts both internally and externally, and develop innovative fundraising strategies so that your non-profit continues to flourish into the future.

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