Building a Strong Nonprofit Leadership Team: The Role of Executive Recruitment

Building a Strong Nonprofit Leadership Team The Role of Executive Recruitment

Building a Strong Nonprofit Leadership Team: The Role of Executive Recruitment

Nonprofit organizations and their nonprofit leadership teams are essential drivers of change, from social justice issues to economic inequalities and inequities to environmental support and beyond. We have all looked on in awe as these mission-driven organizations work tirelessly to address critical issues, improve the lives of individuals, and strengthen communities worldwide. They operate within a unique space full of potential and possibilities, which makes hunting for new nonprofit leaders engaging, exciting, and (if we’re being honest) challenging.

Nonprofit leaders possess a unique ability to balance strong business skills and compassionate decision-making with their passion for the mission. Without a capable and committed leadership team, nonprofits can, at times, struggle to achieve their mission while reaching their full potential. The search process for qualified candidates is becoming increasingly complex, and many organizations simply do not have the time needed to lead the process in-house. However, with a little help from your friendly executive search team, the search for talent can turn into a positive and exciting time for candidates and hiring members alike! The below steps offer a suggested way of going about the process of identifying exceptional executive leadership talent.

Identify and Clearly Define Leadership Needs

The first step in growing and strengthening a nonprofit leadership team is identifying and defining the organization’s leadership needs. This can include conducting assessments of the current team’s strengths and weaknesses to see what skills and qualities would complement or enhance the team. In addition to position-specific skills, organizations can benefit from seeking out individuals who come from backgrounds that are diverse to those already on the team. The National Council of Nonprofits states, “Studies have shown that a more diverse staff can foster enhanced innovation. And when board members, employees, and others who shape the values and activities of a nonprofit come from a wide array of backgrounds, they each bring unique perspectives that shape, blend, and influence how to advance the nonprofit’s mission and solve problems in potentially more inclusive and innovative ways.” Executive search firms have incredibly wide-ranging networks and use their expertise to guide nonprofit organizations through the process of identifying potential candidates who can best support and enhance the current leadership team.

Form a Search Committee

The formation of a well-rounded Search Committee is an essential step in identifying your newest leader, and successful outcomes come through Committees comprised of a diverse representation of board members, executive leaders, as well as other such stakeholders. Including a range of individuals works to ensure there is true representation of the organization within the Committee itself, as well as the people and cause it serves.

Create a Role / Ideal Candidate Description

This is an incredibly hard piece of the puzzle. Determining what are “nice-to-haves” versus “must-haves” for the organization is a difficult but essential task, and there can be opposing views from Search Committee members. As an advisor, your executive recruitment partner offers an independent voice as well as the skills to deftly and diplomatically facilitate these important discussions- setting a strong foundation for successful search outcomes.

Attract and Recruit Top Talent

One of the most precious resources to many overworked nonprofits is time, and time is a critical component in the search for incoming organizational leadership. Rather than waste such a valuable resource, many nonprofit organizations are turning to executive recruitment teams who can attain better results in less time. Once a search firm has been retained, the recruitment process is an extensive journey that takes recruiters all over as they identify qualified candidate pools. Executive search firms are able to leverage their expertise in marketing, outreach, and branding to draw in potential candidates as well as sift through their national and global networks to find strong organizational leaders.

Screen and Evaluate Candidates

Screening and evaluating candidates is crucial to the recruitment process, and executive search partners have the expertise to consistently and (relatively) effectively assess candidates’ skills, experience, and overall match to organizational culture and values. They know what simply sounds or looks good on a resume and what truly is good, selecting the strong gems from the fluff. An executive search partner can provide reference verifications and, upon offer, facilitate a thorough background check to ensure that candidates have the proven ability to deliver on the requirements of the role.

Facilitate and Coordinate the Hiring Process

Executive search firms don’t just find candidate pools; they assess them, too, downselecting until there is a reasonable group to be presented to the hiring committee. Before a candidate reaches the organization’s interviewing process, they will first be vetted and interviewed by executive recruiters who will also manage candidate feedback before coordinating future interviews with the Search Committee.

. Their experience and tact can make all the difference when challenging situations arise, such as counteroffers or competing offers, ensuring that the hiring proceeds smoothly and professionally.

This broad-spectrum support ensures that the process runs smoothly, that the best candidates get in front of the Search Committee, and that organizational leadership is prepared for interviewing and deciding between candidates.

Select a Final Candidate

When it comes time for the final selection, executive recruiters stand ready to offer their expertise in selecting, negotiating with, and onboarding the final candidate. Executive search partners help the Search Committee discuss candidate performance as well as interview takeaways regarding each candidate, giving everyone on the Committee the space to articulate their views and to hear the views of others.

In Conclusion

A strong nonprofit leadership team is critical for the achievement of an organization’s mission and goals, and building a strong one can be a complex and challenging process. Executive recruitment plays an invaluable role in this effort by actively partnering with organizational stakeholders, nonprofit boards, and nonprofit leadership in identifying and defining leadership needs, attracting top talent, screening and evaluating candidates, and providing support during hiring. By partnering with an executive search firm, nonprofits can build strong teams that are representative of the values they hold dear and that have the skills to advance their missions and goals. A strong leadership team has been shown to improve employee morale, engagement, and retention, creating a stable and committed workforce. Such a workforce is thereby better equipped to innovate, be creative, and grow and adapt to changing circumstances and emerging challenges.

If you are looking for a search firm to help find your newest nonprofit leader and don’t know where to start, Scion Executive Search Nonprofit can help! Our clients each receive unparalleled reach into national and local networks, containing millions of executive candidate options. From executive leadership in social services to foundations, Scion Executive Search Nonprofit stands ready to connect you with the talent you’re searching for! Contact us today to get a search started or visit our website to find out more about our available services!

About the Author

Bailey Olderog, Technical Writer (she/her/hers)

Bailey Olderog brings her passion for storytelling and language to her role as technical writer at Scion Executive Search (SES). She is dedicated to telling the stories of others, and it has been her lifelong effort to make contributions that ensure that even the quietest of voices are heard.

Bailey has spent most of her career in service to those who serve. Her extensive public sector experience includes ghostwriting for elected officials and military generals, authoring investigations and public reports, and bringing a voice and audience to those without a platform. She believes language is an art and enjoys using language to advocate for others in ways that are professional, clear, and respectful.

Veterans’ mental health and support have been the guiding star in her career; Bailey volunteers at and has extensively advocated for veteran organizations in her native Texas. She has spent over a decade researching PTSD in veterans, using her research and connections to advocate for positive change and support for military families. She has written extensively on behalf of service members in need of assistance, as well as for military leaders seeking authentic ways to connect with their personnel. She has organized events and supported advocacy efforts for organizations such as Gideons 300 and Texas Veteran County Service Officers. On a nice day, you can often find her volunteering at a park or trail cleanup.

Bailey received her degree in political science from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, where she also minored in studio art.