3 Ways to Attract Top Talent at Your Nonprofit

By Rick Arrowood.

Rick Arrowood, JD is chair of Northeastern’s  Nonprofit Management master’s program. His teaching and research interests include leadership development for the nonprofit sector to train tomorrow’s leaders and advise small nonprofit boards in both theory and real-world practice.

Hiring for a non-profit can be a double-edged sword.

The good news is that, as a nonprofit, your organization offers many of the “intangibles” that can lead to a fulfilling career by serving others.

The bad news is you most likely can’t compete with a for-profit when it comes to salary.

However, there are ways to overcome this discrepancy and still attract the best and the brightest. It’s key to remember that at nonprofits, every person goes to work with the belief that they will achieve something that day.

That’s what makes nonprofits exciting—it’s not about the salary, it’s about making a difference.

Here are three ways you can attract top talent at your nonprofit.

1. Find Their Motivation

Find out early during the interview process what motivates the candidate to pursue the job. You’ll need to go well beyond asking the standard interview questions to learn what the applicant would like to accomplish at your organization.

Find out how the candidate places value on your mission and how he or she truly wants to make a difference in the community or arena you work in.

2. Show What You Offer

Emphasize what your organization does offer. If you find that the candidate is motivated by your mission, highlight how he can not only make a living but also make a difference in specific ways by working for your nonprofit.

If your organization can’t raise the funds to pay a competitive salary, be sure to underscore other benefits that you can provide, such as work-life balance, flex time, paid time off, or tuition reimbursement. Consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs when illustrating the unique benefits of working at a nonprofit.

3. Focus on Growth

Accentuate the opportunities for individual growth in your organization. Often nonprofit staffers are expected to wear several hats, such as grant-writer, fundraiser, and communications director.

This hands-on experience provides amazing leadership and career development opportunities that aren’t available in a for-profit business. As you move up, it becomes less about the salary and more about self-actualization and fulfillment, and in a nonprofit you can reach that much faster.

5 Ways to Get More out of Your Fundraising Events

By Heidi Gregory-Mina.

Heidi Gregory-Mina, DM, MBA, MS, teaches Grant and Report Writing in the Nonprofit Management master’s program, as well as in the Leadership and Human Resources programs

Even though your organization might have the purest of missions, it still takes money to keep it running. 

And such an important function shouldn’t be left to guesswork or shot-in-the-dark approaches. With the right fundraising strategy, you can get a lot more bucks for your efforts. 

Here’s five tips that can help you get more out of your fundraising events. 

1. Take full advantage of social media.

It takes money to make money. But one way to make sure that you raise more than you spend is to use all of the relevant free or low-cost methods to publicize and manage your event, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

2. Be creative and innovative.

More people attend events that are fun and out-of-the- ordinary.

3. Clearly define your goals.

Are you organizing your event to raise awareness, or to raise money? Once you’ve defined your goals, you can choose the correct time of year to hold the event.

For example, If your goal is to raise money, don’t plan a fundraiser during the holiday season. People already feel financially strapped and will not be as willing to donate or donate as much. 

4. Turn a non-event into a fundraising pitch.

 Instead of holding a big event, email past donors and friends of your organization and tell them that you plan to funnel all event-related efforts and resources into programs and services this year.

This cost savings means additional revenue for your organization’s programs, and you can request donations in lieu of attendance. Most donors are receptive to this approach.

5. Don’t give up!

There are going to be times when donations are down, and it seems like no one is interested. Every nonprofit goes through these cycles.

Use this time to brainstorm innovate approaches to fundraising, learn about new technologies that could help you reach your goals, personally reach out to networks, and meet with donors and supporters face to face. 

5 Tips for Writing Grants that Get You Funding

By Heidi Gregory-Mina.

Heidi Gregory-Mina, DM, MBA, MS, teaches Grant and Report Writing in the Nonprofit Management master’s program, as well as in the Leadership and Human Resources programs. 

Receiving a grant or not is a big deal to any organization, whether it opens the door for you to take on new projects, or helps keep your organization running.

It goes without saying that a sloppy grant proposal won’t get funding, especially when competition is steep. But what can you make sure to include that will give your grant proposals their best chance?

Here’s what the experts know about grant writing, and the important steps they take every single time.

1. Do Your Homework

Make absolutely sure that your nonprofit’s mission aligns with the funder’s goals and objectives for the grant.

Don’t force your program and services to fit the funder; it will be a waste of your valuable time. Even slight shifts can eventually lead to mission creep and resource splitting.

2. Follow Directions

Follow the grant funder’s guidelines to the letter when writing the grant. Be clear and concise and edit very carefully.

Review the scoring criteria to ensure that you included everything before calling it final. It is also good practice to have a layman read your grant before submitting to ensure it is clear and understandable.

3. Plan for the Future

Make sure that you have a robust plan to sustain the program or service after the grant has ended. Funders don’t like to fund programs or services that can’t demonstrate sustainability.

4. Share Your Budget

Show a clear alignment between the goals and objectives of the program and your budget. The people who will be working on the project should have their salaries allocated to the budget based on their time and effort.

The other expenses should align to the needs of the program and services. Whether or not the funder asks for it, you should always prepare a detailed budget to ensure that you’re not asking for too much or too little.

Finally, make sure the budget narrative explains in detail all of the budgetary items and addresses any variances or changes between budget years.

5. What’s the Deal?

Show that your project is about more than just data collection by discussing in detail what you plan to do with the data that you collect. Provide a clear plan for assessment and dissemination.

Tell the funders how you’ll prove success and outline your plans to publicize the program’s achievements.

5 Secrets of Effective Time Managers


Time management can be one of the biggest factors in determining your success, whether you’re considering a big commitment like going back to school, or trying to stay on top of your responsibilities at work or at home. 

What are some of the secrets of the people who seem to get everything done — and more? Remember that while no one’s perfect all the time, there are definitely some skills you can learn to help prepare you for better time management success. 

1. Prioritization

For people who are attempting to juggle work, home life and school all at the same time, it’s really important to make sure you understand the demands of all three, and learn how to prioritize them on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Maintaining “To Do” lists can be extremely helpful, as well as communicating with those who may be impacted by your busy schedule. Your family, coworkers and classmates can be great resources for support and understanding – don’t hesitate to reach out. 

2. Plan in Advance

Chances are, you know a few weeks or months in advance when your schedule is going to go completely crazy. Maybe you’re enrolled in classes and you know finals week will be tough. Maybe you have to travel for work and you won’t be able to meet your other deadlines. Whatever the case is, take stock of the ebbs and flows in your schedule and take advantage of the lulls to prepare for the busiest times. Remember – failing to plan is planning to fail! 

3. Develop a Set Schedule 

If you know you work better in the morning, reserve that time to do your work. If you know you prefer to work out in the evenings, make sure you know that’s what time you have to get to the gym. Find the times in the day where you are the most productive and capitalize on that while you can. With time to focus on just one task, you’ll go further than attempting to bounce around randomly. 

4. Focus

When it’s time to get things done, eliminate your distractions, whether it’s Facebook, the dishes piling up in the sink, or the children fighting down the hall. Get yourself someplace where you can focus completely on the task at and and stick with it until you’re done. Too many times we try to multitask, when in reality, you’ll get more done by focusing on one thing at a time. 

5. Give Yourself a Break 

When you’re a highly motivated person, you feel like you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. And that may be the case, but remember that everyone has their own limits, whether it’s time or patience. But burnout is very real, and can actually cause you to suffer in performance if you push too hard and for too long. Like with everything else, make sure you set aside some time to relax, see your friends and family, and take your mind off of your to-do list. When you return to it, you’ll feel refreshed and invigorated and ready for the next challenge. 

Essential Knowledge and Skills for Nonprofit Management

By Joanne Goldstein.

I am excited to report on the first seminar of our newly launched Nonprofit Seminar Series, which is a yearlong program sponsored by the College of Professional Studies of Northeastern University for employees of nonprofit organizations. On September 29 at our Broad Street Executive Education location in Boston’s financial district, Dr. Heidi Gregory-Mina, a faculty member in the Nonprofit Management graduate program, focused on Best Practices in Grant Writing. Staff members from over 20 organizations that specialize in a variety of social services including youth, education, social justice and health care attended. Participants took away specific tools and ideas to use in obtaining and administering grants. The lecture was informative and the conversation lively and insightful.

Joanne Goldstein

The College of Professional Studies is proud to present this series and offer these seminars and other educational opportunities to nonprofit organizations and their employees. We understand that providing quality, accessible, and affordable education to its employees is an important value to nonprofits, regardless of their mission, structure, or orientation, and we’re pleased to partner in that effort. Nonprofit organizations recognize the importance of education for its own sake, as an employee benefit, and a valuable tool in building increased commitment to the organization.

The seminar series will focus on essential skills that will enhance the expertise of nonprofit staff to effectively help run their organizations. The seminars will be taught by Northeastern faculty and will offer best practices in the specified topic. There will also be time for participants to network with other local professionals.

Both in my current role as focused on workforce development and employer engagement and in my prior position as Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development I have had the opportunity to meet and interface with many of the nonprofit organizations in the Commonwealth. I am proud that I was able to provide valuable assistance from the state and now offer educational opportunities to the nonprofits. And as a member of the nonprofit community, the College values the ways that we can learn from each other and provide benefits that are mutually advantageous to our organizations and the communities we serve.

The Northeastern College of Professional Studies nonprofit partnership network continues to grow and provide additional opportunities to our partners. We’re pleased that our partners recognize the strength of our academic programs and encourage their staff and stakeholders to participate in lifelong learning, including our degree and certificate programs, the seminar series, and other opportunities. We are proud to be part of strengthening the nonprofit fabric of our region that contributes to the health and well-being of the greater community.

Details about our next seminar in the series will be available shortly. If you have any questions or would like more information on this seminar series or the partnership program, please email Michelle Amante at [email protected].