How Nonprofit Board Member Backgrounds Are Shifting Hiring in the Nonprofit Sector
This nonprofit job blog explores how nonprofit board member make-up and backgrounds are shifting hiring in the nonprofit sector. As experts in nonprofit hiring and job seeking, there are some new changes that have been shaping the nonprofit and foundation sector more than ever before we would like to share.
We recently spent time with six leading experts in nonprofit executive search at the national ASA Conference who shared an ongoing trend in the nonprofit sector in hiring. A trend that human resource staff and organizational development consultants are actively guiding nonprofit hiring mangers through and it is one that they believe is having a significant impact in the culture of nonprofit hiring, and the policies of nonprofit management being created.
Nonprofit boards and foundation boards (of all sizes, budgets, types, locations, and structures) are on average are adopting more processes and membership from the for-profit sector. In the 90s, and 2000s, board membership at a macro level was more dominated by nonprofit experienced board members, baby boomer organizational founders, and nonprofit connected executives. Core nonprofit board membership is now increasingly being made up of first-time nonprofit board members (from tech companies, banks, and or core corporate management such as marketing or communications) with a push towards larger board size.
This is a shift where historically over the past thirty years for-profit backgrounds were traditionally more seen at the executive board level and reserved for individuals with incredible corporate prowess. The need, and at times desperation for the board to find experience in core subject areas such as technology, web design, marketing, analytics, has driven the need for nonprofit boards to seek out new talent at lower levels of the corporate ladder.
This is a big shift from decades of past history where smaller board member size dominated and Board roles were more limited to mission experienced individuals, and or members with a strong capacity for philanthropy. Significant increases in corporate talent (as a trend) becoming more involved in the nonprofit sector at the board level (and Board chair level) is at the same time changing how open the sector is as a whole to recruiting new talent and viewing corporate experience inside nonprofits as well.
Consider most current not-for-profit openings at the CEO Search level both at foundations and nonprofit organizations. It used to be in the ’80s, ’90s, ‘2000s and up until about 2007, that nonprofit boards only wanted to consider proven past Executive Director/CEO candidates with a minimum of ten years of experience leading a nonprofit as the lead executive. This has changed, and it is a direct impact of the make-up of the average Board now being more corporate in experience and culture than in years past. Boards are open to, and many times have preferences for a candidate like themselves. Thus, hybrid talent, candidates that have nonprofit Board experience, and for-profit corporate proven startup and growth experience in the past are highly sought after.
What does this mean? There is a new opportunity for nontraditional corporate candidates that are seeking work and entry into the nonprofit job sector from the current shift in hiring trends. The effects of this hiring trend are direct as once a corporate CEO is hired to run a nonprofit or foundation, they normally are also prone to hiring corporate talent for their officers. So, if you are a corporate candidate, interested in making the move to the nonprofit or foundation sector, board leadership experience is still very important for you to hold, but given the sectors, new openness to cutting edge technology approaches and corporate skills now is the time to apply and make a change if your background is of this type.
Here is a tip that was shared with us recently on the topic of crossover corporate candidates (crossover means you are trying to make the jump to work at a nonprofit): before you decide where to apply, first target nonprofits and foundations with corporate culture and or organization where their leader hailed from a corporation recently. It’s that simple to significantly raise your chances of consideration. Applying at organizations and foundations with corporate officers leading the charge more likely leads to face-to-face interviews for current corporate candidates.
This also affects nonprofit candidates in the sector already as well. For experienced nonprofit candidates in an interview it is of the utmost importance to verbally value corporate practices, and also describe different approaches, learned methodology, and trends in the corporate sector when interviewing. As employers more so are seeking hybrid talent between nonprofit and for-profit ideology it is very important candidates do not appear to be to niche, and or too deep into one area. It is very important to demonstrate your knowledge of trends in the nonprofit, corporate and startup world(s). You must show how your understanding of technology and systems (in both nonprofits and the corporate world) can and will directly impact their work and contribute to the organizational mission.
The playing field for foundation and nonprofit jobs is simply changing. The non-profit sector does not have enough institutions studying itself holistically as a whole. This is where experts in hiring and board governance can be a great benefit as they individually understand and see the nuances and trends. It is our pleasure to share these topics for further discussion on Foundation List.
Here at Foundation List it is our goal to make finding nonprofit jobs at foundation easier for our passionate foundation and nonprofit job seekers. Foundation List is a socially conscious nonprofit job board for foundations and nonprofit job seekers helping to educate the public, providing a free public forum to post, connect, and discuss Foundation related topics and news, and is a national job board listing foundation job openings and board member vacancies.