Employer Branding for Nonprofits

Employer Branding for Nonprofits

One of the key qualities of a strong employer brand is aligning employees around a mission. Deloitte research shows that "mission-driven" companies have 30 percent higher levels of innovation and 40 percent higher levels of retention, and they tend to best or second in their market segment.

Mission is important for the next generation of workers: the same study showed that more than 70 percent of Millennials expect their employers to focus on societal or mission-driven problems.

Competing against the big boys

While for-profit companies may have to work hard to define and communicate a mission, nonprofits have a leg up on the private sector. Whether your nonprofit focuses on social issues, education, the arts or community causes, you should have no trouble convincing candidates that working for your company is worthwhile.

When you're competing against higher paying jobs in the corporate sector, you have to go the extra mile to convince candidates that the experience they'll gain working for your nonprofit will more than compensate for a potential lower salary.

To strengthen your employer branding as a nonprofit, consider these three techniques:

1. Create a compelling employer value proposition. Your mission as a nonprofit defines what your organization does for the world; your employer value proposition (EVP) defines what you do for your employees.

For example, Andy Porter, chief people officer at The Broad Institute, a Glassdoor 2016 Best Places to Work, aligns the institute's science-based mission with a value proposition that enriches the careers of those who work there.

"Broadies choose to join this team because they believe in our mission, which is to make breakthrough discoveries that will transform human health for the better, all through collaboration and teamwork," Porter says. "Our focus on building community and supporting our people's career aspirations has helped us create a stimulating, creative and rewarding environment that is constantly evolving, just like our science."

Can you define what value working at your nonprofit provides employees? If not, ask them. Launch informal surveys, focus groups or "stay interviews." Solicit opinion on why employees love their jobs, how the organization supports their career goals and what keeps them on board.

2. Communicate. Once you have an employer value proposition aligned with your mission, seek out ways to communicate it to candidates.

Here are some places where you can communicate your EVP without spending a lot of money:

  • Careers page. Include mission and employer value proposition messaging. Add photos, videos and testimonials. Note: Don't worry about holding yourself to the same production standards of large, for-profit company career pages; candidates will understand that you're a non-profit and appreciate any engaging content you can provide.
  • Job descriptions. Include a paragraph about your nonprofit's mission and EVP.
  • Job site profiles. If you have a profile on Idealist.org or other career sites, include a sentence two about your EVP.
  • Social media. By definition, your social followers are already interested in what you do-and may make great employees. Post job descriptions and images of your employees at the office on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Even if most of your followers are not actively looking for jobs, they may see sharing your job announcement post as a kindly, pay-it-forward act. In the process, they may potentially refer you to your next great hire.
  • Glassdoor. Your Glassdoor profile is a great employer branding tool. By adding your mission, showcasing your culture with photos and videos, and promoting company updates, you'll give job seekers an inside view of what it's like to work for you. 

3. Appreciate Your Employees. You may not have the budget for expensive training programs, but your leaders and managers can all do one thing for no cost: express appreciation for a job well done.

As it turns out, a laser focus on serving constituents and donors can, ironically, create a culture where employees are underappreciated for their work. A Glassdoor study noted 81 percent of employees are motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work; only 38 percent say they're motivated to work harder when their boss is demanding.

Research creative ways to recognize employee accomplishments-daily and on a more formal basis, e.g., during quarterly or annual reviews.


In summary

Not every job candidate is 100 percent compensation-driven. The desire to make a difference, do good and change the world for the better are powerful job satisfaction drivers for many job seekers. For nonprofits looking to compete for great talent against the private sector, syncing employer brand with your mission can be a compelling recruitment message.

Kick-start your employer branding efforts

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