team building, attract top talent
Talent Published Date, 2022

How To Leverage Your Mission And Impact To Attract Top Talent In 2023

Created By: Jessica Shatzel
December 14, 2022

Few people question the importance of nonprofit work. The mission and impact of nonprofits are valued and appreciated by people both in and outside of the nonprofit sector.

But nonprofit jobs often come with some sacrifices, including lower salaries and long hours, creating challenges for nonprofits in their effort to hire and retain top talent. And generational changes are adding to that equation. Today’s employees are looking for a healthy work-life balance, flexible work schedules, and the ability to choose between working in an office or remotely.

These developments are forcing nonprofits to revisit their recruitment, hiring, and retention strategies. According to a Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey, two of the top nonprofit staffing challenges are hiring qualified staff with a limited budget and finding time to recruit and interview job candidates.

In order for nonprofits to compete with the private sector and attract top talent, they will need to leverage their mission and impact, focus on culture, and pay as competitively as they can. They will also need to tap into the passion that people have for a particular cause or issue, which has been—and will always be—an advantage that nonprofits have over most private sector work.

Nonprofits should also not underestimate the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)—and the role DEI plays in the recruitment and retention of top talent. A diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace creates a welcoming environment that encourages fresh ideas and new perspectives.

Retaining staff is becoming just as important—and difficult—as recruiting new staff. Nonprofits that engage in meaningful retention practices benefit from decreased turnover and hiring costs, as well as increased employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Further, the hybrid workplace and the extent to which an employer makes it an option has emerged as a significant factor in the ability to attract and retain talent. A recent CBRE Nonprofit Practice survey of more than 350 nonprofits revealed that given their employees’ desire to work virtually for some portion of the week, most nonprofits have embraced the hybrid work model. 62% of employers require some, but not full, in-office work, while a third, 32%, allow their employees to work at home as much as they prefer. Only 6% require or are planning to require fully in-office work.

Here are 5 tips you can implement today to recruit and retain talent at your nonprofit in 2023:

Be realistic about compensation.

With quality talent increasingly at a premium, organizations, especially nonprofits with tight budgets, are going to face some tough decisions as it relates to salaries and benefits. Nonprofit salaries will rarely be competitive with the private sector —and it’s important that organizations are clear and precise as to what salary and benefits they can offer. Benefits like full medical and dental coverage, stipends to pay for continuing education or professional development, flexible work schedules, retirement plans, etc., can be helpful in enticing new people to join your team.

Emphasize your mission.

It’s important to focus on the mission, impact, values, and tangible benefit your organization brings to the world. Those people who see a job as more than a salary are likely to care a lot more about the culture, values, and mission of an organization. Many of them will choose to work for a proactively beneficial organization over an organization that will pay them more but accomplishes less.

Look within.

Oftentimes the best place to find new talent is inside your own organization. Before you go outside to hire, consider promoting from within. Well-run organizations look for opportunities to promote staff, especially young and exceptionally talented individuals. Promoting from within is smart business and good for morale—and it’s also cost-effective. Creating professional development opportunities and establishing career tracks for staff can assist in making this an effective method of retention and pipeline development.

Encourage word-of-mouth referrals.

People tend to build social circles centered around common interests and common ground. Sometimes, this means a shared hobby, a shared class for their children, or a shared community around a cultural interest. More often, though, people will build social circles around their passions and careers. Encourage team members to reach out to their friends and peers when your organization is hiring to find like-minded individuals who are passionate about your organization’s mission.

Consider qualified candidates that may have been passed over.

The people you don’t hire are nearly as important as those you do. When you hire for a position, you build a candidate pool of qualified individuals who are in the running for it. You can only hire one (or two), but you could end up with people in the pipeline who are qualified for the position or other positions at your nonprofit.

While many nonprofit organizations may not be able to compete with salaries in the private sector, they have much more to offer their employees. From the transformational impact that aligns with the passion and goals of their team members, to some of the most inclusive and diverse workplaces, there are huge opportunities in 2023 for nonprofits to hire and attract top talent that will move their mission forward.

Want to find the right talent to help you amplify your impact in 2023? Get in touch with Orr Group today to learn more about our full range of recruitment, HR, and DEI services.


Jessica Shatzel is a Director and Head of Talent at Orr Group, specializing in executive search, recruitment, and a variety of human resources support for our clients.

Related Resources