5 hiring trends in NGOs and nonprofits

April 5, 2022

hiring trends in NGOs and nonprofits

Changes to the global talent landscape in recent years has meant that NGOs and nonprofits providing essential aid and services around the world must be strategic in how they staff their organizations.

Here are five hiring trends in nonprofits and NGOs to help you better understand the climate and make decisions that help further your mission:

1. Shifting demands due to the pandemic

COVID-19 transformed or at least jolted practically every aspect of modern society, including the nonprofit organization hiring landscape. 

But whether this impact was positive or negative depended largely on the nonprofit or NGO’s specific mission.

Approximately one-third of organizations grew in response to significantly increased demand. This makes sense, seeing as the pandemic and its restrictions contributed to a massive uptick in food insecurity, poverty and mental health issues. There were more people in need than ever before. NGOs and nonprofits focused on humanitarian aid scrambled to add more individuals to further their cause.

On the flip side, another one-third of nonprofits were forced to shutter, downsize or reorient because of decreased demand. In some cases, there was suddenly less need for nonprofit or NGO services. And in others, pandemic restrictions hampered their ability to operate as per usual—or at all.

Despite the changes, there’s a generally positive outlook for NGOs and nonprofits, seeing as nearly two-thirds of organizations still expect to add headcount to staff over the next year. 

2. A rise in hybrid or remote work

It’s not just businesses that have transitioned to a remote or hybrid work model—many nonprofits and NGOs have updated their policies for where and how employees work.

This will impact the way nonprofits’ operations function. As Bev Wenzel of the ROCK Center for Youth Development notes:

“The hybrid workplace provides unexpected opportunities. Employers are building better teams, and staff are more productive and have a higher level of happiness. Efficient systems that were always needed became necessary for remote work and to improve how we work. The staff keeps better records, and information is consistently and universally available, strengthening us for exciting new growth.”

Naturally, this will also impact hiring for nonprofits and NGOs, since many candidates now require remote or hybrid work. This shift will also likely create opportunities for organizations to acquire talented individuals and volunteers because it will greatly expand the recruiting pool.

Instead of primarily focusing on candidates who live in proximity to the office, nonprofits now have a much wider and more diverse group of candidates to choose from—anywhere in the world.

Nonprofits and NGOs that adapt to this changing work landscape will have more options about who they bring on board.

3. New in-demand skills and expertise

Another trend in hiring employees for nonprofit organizations suggests that more expertise and a wider range of skills are expected of candidates.

According to the Foundation List, as organizations move toward remote work and online fundraising models, there’s an increased demand for technical professionals and volunteers. Skills and positions that are sought after include: 

  • Essential health and medical care experience
  • Tech support
  • Database administration
  • Online fundraising and marketing
  • Case managers
  • Counselors

In order to meet these demands, more than a third of organizations polled in the 2022 Nonprofit Talent Management Priorities Survey reported plans to prioritize talent-focused technologies, such as learning management technology systems and applicant tracking systems, to help them recruit high-quality candidates.

4. A focus on culture and employee well-being

While it’s important to get fresh new faces in the door and on board with your mission, to keep them there and avoid nonprofit employee termination, your first focus should be on creating an environment where the staff wants to be.

More than a third of nonprofits (38%) said that they were facing serious challenges ensuring the mental health and well-being of their employees. Burnout is a major problem across all organizations. Staff is stretched thin, having to work longer hours and juggle more responsibilities than ever. Naturally, this creates tension, frustration and negative feelings that impact the workplace culture.

Declining mental health is a significant factor in employee churn. If you want to attract and retain top talent, you need to create a culture that focuses on work-life balance, provides services and benefits that promote mental well-being, and creates a work environment that they grow in rather than stagnate.

Some potential ways you can address this in your hiring practices and workplace include:

  • Adequate medical care
  • Mental health resources
  • Education and training reimbursement
  • Stress relief and coping education
  • Financial education
  • Weight management programs
  • Addiction support
  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Employee retention programs

5. Hiring locally in the country of operation

There’s been a concerted push among NGOs and nonprofits with international missions to hire locally. After all, who is better suited to serve the community than someone who’s from it?

This benefits both the organization and the local community:

  • For the nonprofit, it provides you with a potentially valuable resource to draw upon—someone who truly understands the situation on the ground. They speak the language, know the people and can better understand the cultural nuances. 
  • For the community, it provides a much-needed job to a local and equips that person with the training, education and skills that they can then use to discover and promote lasting solutions in the area.   

The challenge for NGOs and nonprofits hiring internationally is making sure you understand and abide by the local employment laws and customs—which can be hard to do if you don’t have local HR and payroll expertise.

Some areas to be mindful of include:

  • Contract duration and requirements
  • Independent contractor vs. employee
  • Pay and benefits

Without local HR knowledge, you could unwittingly put your organization at risk of noncompliance and be subject to mission-derailing penalties.

Related: NGOs, nonprofits and independent contractors—how to protect your mission from the costly risk of noncompliance

Hiring the right people, the right way

Nonprofits and NGOs must keep an eye on both the shifting trends and employment laws, particularly since the hiring landscape in one country may be completely different than in another.

When employing workers for a mission in a foreign country, an employer of record such as Global Employment Outsourcing (GEO) can be an invaluable partner for an NGO or nonprofit because it would provide the all-important in-country HR and payroll knowledge needed to ensure hiring is in compliance with all local labor laws.  Our global solutions advisors can help you understand international hiring requirements in the countries you need to hire crucial workers—request a call today.

Learn more about how to hire international workers to help further your cause: Global employment guide for NGOs

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