Overcoming the challenges of recruitment in the charity sector

Charity workers picking up litter
By Paula Smith | 18th March 2021 | 5 min read

Finding the right candidates can be challenging for any organisation, but especially for the charity sector. This sector is facing numerous obstacles when it comes to recruitment with competition from for-profit organisations, rising recruitment costs and how to develop an inclusive culture.

Take a look at our 5 top tips to support recruitment success in the charity sector:

Attracting the right candidates

One of the top recruitment challenges facing the charity sector is attracting the right candidates for your vacancies. This can be due to the salaries or the level of commitment involved, but it does not mean your vacancy is not a fantastic one!

By providing core information in detail to candidates including appropriate skills, responsibilities and duties required to successfully perform the role, you give greater detail and insight to draw people in. This detail also enables you to optimise your job adverts and we suggest including as much detail as possible:

  • Job title and location
  • Make it clear whether it's a paid or unpaid voluntary position
  • Include a brief description of the role
  • Share information about the company culture
  • Provide oversight of what your charity is striving for

As charitable roles are often slightly lower paid, the opportunity is more about giving back and what the candidate will gain from working with your organisation beyond financial gain. Your employer brand can be one of your biggest assets when it comes to attracting new talent. Your culture should be visible to potential candidates through your career sites, social media and article content to differentiate you from the competition.

Don't go! Tackling talent retention

Finding the right talent to fill the vacancies in your charity is not an easy task, but once you have hired the best people, what are you doing to make sure you don’t lose them?

Why does talent retention matter? Poor retention in your charity can be detrimental to organisational success and also be a drain on finances and training resources. So how can you increase the likelihood of candidates staying after the recruitment process?

Showcase your powerful story, missions, and values to find people who share the same passion for the cause and those who will fully engage with the brand. Ultimately, you want to hire people who fit your charity's culture and hold similar core values.

Creating the best candidate experience is key for ensuring you attract top talent, from posting the vacancy online to their first day in their new role but delivering great candidate experience doesn’t finish when they become an employee. The recruitment process significantly impacts how well candidates will go on to perform in your charity.

Developing an inclusive culture

Every organisation can benefit from developing an inclusive culture, which is especially important in the charity sector. Developing an inclusive culture is much more than filling quotas and a tick-box exercise, but is building an environment that inspires creativity and celebrates differences. 

How can you begin to eliminate any bias through your recruitment process? By removing unfair and unnecessary barriers to hiring talented individuals from different backgrounds. 

  • Is the language in your job descriptions and adverts putting off some people from applying? Focus on using language that encourages people from all backgrounds to apply. Try using an online gender decoder such as www.textio.com to understand if the wording you use in your adverts is gender neutral and always think about the images you use on your advert. Do they suggest you are an inclusive employer?
  • Promote that you’re an equal opportunities employer. Share how your company is promoting diversity and inclusion e.g. Include photographs on your social media of your diverse workforce, but don’t use stock photos to show that you are diverse and inclusive.
  • Anonymisation supports a fairer and unbiased selection process. It is important to base judgments only on needed information, a candidate’s name allows people to form an idea of gender and sometimes even ethnicity.  

For more information on how to deliver an inclusive recruitment experience, check out our latest blog

Keeping recruitment costs under control

Due to the nature of charities, often being funded by donations from the public and dependent on volunteers to help run them, budgets for recruitment can often be very tight. Therefore, keeping recruitment costs under control is paramount in the charity sector.

Getting the candidate right the first time can aid in reducing the recruitment costs in your charity. Hiring the correct people for your charity not only improves your retention rate but reduces your need to recruit and retrain long-term. 

Leveraging recruitment technology can further support cost management. Without the right tools in place for your recruitment process, your ability to reduce your costs will be held back from the start. With the use of an ATS, your charity could see a reduction in external recruitment costs and reliance on agencies, all whilst attracting the very best talent. 

Initial costs of implementing a new recruitment system may be of concern to stakeholders within your charity, but it has the potential to save time and costs in the long run. Using an ATS increases access to a greater talent pool, targeting relevant individuals with your opportunities without the need for increased spend on agency support and advertising. 

Change can be a positive step for your charity, but it needs to be backed by substantial evidence of return on investment.

Skills shortage in the charity sector

Talent can be in short supply for charities, having to deal with fierce competition from for-profit organisations, who have the resources to offer higher salaries, often deferring candidates from applying to job roles in the charity sector. 

Defining a talent pipeline will give you access to a database of high-caliber candidates who have expressed interest in your charity, and who share similar values. Having the right tools to build the talent pipeline, such as an applicant tracking system can really improve efficiency, whilst still building a relationship with your audience. 

You can overcome skills shortages and access a greater number of skilled candidates by turning to diverse and underutilised talent pools too. Extending your talent pipeline not only promotes a diverse workforce but helps plug those skill gaps you struggle to fill in your charity.

In conclusion, overcoming these challenges for recruiting in the charity sector can be difficult, but by following our tips you should be able to reduce these barriers, reduce your costs and tap into a new wave of talent.

Check out our IRIS networx solutions for further support in overcoming these challenges and recruiting for the charity sector.