Recruiting, Talent

Nonprofit Hiring Trends

Whether you’re a nonprofit organization seeking job candidates or a company competing with nonprofits for talent, new research has implications for recruiting and hiring.

The 10th annual Nonprofit Employment Practices survey, conducted by Nonprofit HR, a leading human resources firm that works exclusively with the nonprofit sector, finds that nonprofits, which have been hiring more aggressively than for-profits for the last several years, will continue to do so in 2017. However, the gap is narrowing.
The survey finds 50 percent of nonprofits plan to hire in 2017, down seven percentage points from 2016. At the same time, the corporate hiring outlook is the best it has been in a decade, with 40 percent of for-profit companies planning to hire in 2017, up four percentage points from 2016, according to the CareerBuilder Annual Job Forecast.
The narrowing gap is due at least in part to the growth of social enterprise and purpose-driven business, according to Nonprofit HR.

Not Prepared to Compete

Yet, even as for-profit companies focus on purpose and social responsibility, nonprofits are not adopting corporate best practices.
The survey finds that most nonprofits are not improving their talent and culture practices in order to thrive in the face of growing corporate competition.
Sixty-four percent of nonprofits surveyed report they do not have a formal recruitment strategy. Additionally, 81 percent say they do not have a formal retention strategy. Further, 52 percent indicate they do not have a formal diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy.
Additional survey findings include:


  • 56 percent of nonprofits have no plans to change the way they source for talent in 2017.
  • 28 percent of nonprofits cite an inability to hire qualified staff within a limited budget as their top staffing challenge in 2017. This is the most commonly cited top challenge among nonprofits surveyed.


  • 27 percent of nonprofits have plans to develop a formal retention strategy in 2017.
  • 11 percent of nonprofits say they expect their total turnover rate to increase in 2017, while 59 percent say they expect it to stay the same.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • 42 percent of nonprofits name balancing ethnic/cultural diversity as their greatest diversity challenge, while 35 percent list retaining staff under the age of 30.

Improvement Necessary

“The results of this year’s Nonprofit Employment Practices survey clearly illustrate the need for nonprofits to prioritize their people, and the talent and culture strategies that support them,” said Lisa Brown Alexander, CEO of Nonprofit HR. “With social enterprises and purpose-driven businesses experiencing tremendous growth, it is only going to get more difficult for nonprofits to attract and retain the top performers they need to advance their missions. The time for organizations to get serious about recruitment, retention, culture, and human capital is now.”