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HR Challenges for the Not for Profit Sector

14 September 2010 at 12:43 pm
Staff Reporter
New research reveals key employee attraction and retention issues faced by the Not for Profit sector.

Staff Reporter | 14 September 2010 at 12:43 pm


HR Challenges for the Not for Profit Sector
14 September 2010 at 12:43 pm

New research reveals that budget constraints are the main driver in the recruitment and retention problems faced by the Not for Profit sector in Australia.

Insync Surveys, an employee, customer and board survey provider, released the research which it says addresses the unique issues NFP organisations face in attracting and retaining quality staff.

James Garriock, Insync Surveys CEO says differentiation is the key for Not for Profits to attract and retain quality staff.

Garriock says if organisations don’t want to lose people to the higher paying corporate market, they need to consider creative measures such as non financial benefits.

He says promoting a range of benefits is fundamental; whether they be flexible work hours, succession planning, professional development or career opportunities.

The research suggests many Not for Profits attract candidates who have a strong personal belief in the mission of the organisation. As a consequence, this narrows the number of people to choose from during the selection process.

The research paper draws on the significant research carried out on the topic over the last 10 years, as well as in-depth interviews with experienced Not for Profit HR professionals. They represent four different industries: community care, international aid, employment services and aged care. Despite the differences in industries, the researchers say the main issues faced by Not for Profit organisations are similar.

The research paper says often when mission-aligned people join a Not for Profit, considerable effort and time is then required to boost their skills.

Garriock says limited funds not only means lower salaries but it impacts on the whole hiring process and a lack of job advertising budget can result in smaller candidate pools, putting pressure on HR professionals to hire staff who don’t always have the skills required for the job.

On the contrary, he says skilled staff who join Not for Profits require a variety of benefits to ensure long term motivation and focus.

The research found that NFPs face a number of unique HR issues. For example, it says the mining boom in WA has meant people can be enticed by significantly larger salaries so is critical the sector profiles the enormous satisfaction that the community sector offers and the flexibility of work practices.

It is reported that Not for Profit organisations are being pushed to the limit with fewer resources and reduced head count. The research uncovered instances of burnout and lower employee morale within the sector. This added pressure is often a catalyst for people to look elsewhere.

Helen Petrusa, Manager HR Support and Partnership for Mission Australia says HR needs to offer employees a robust value proposition and do some internal marketing to ensure that they are valued.

Insync Surveys says the research also offers practical solutions for organisations to consider to maximise candidate selection and attract high quality talent.

To download a copy of the research paper, click here.

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One comment

  • Anonymous says:

    When I look at jobs I’ve been most attracted to – it was never for the money. It was always that I was attracted to the organisation (more than the job) and that the organisation represented an opportunity to ‘make a difference’ and to be part of the collective making that difference.

    For example, I joined one of the defense forces to serve for 2 years as my way of putting something back into the community and loved it so much I stayed for 12 years.

    I then found myself attracted to working with tertiary institutions and after two separate stints in the corporate world of some 3.5 years each – found that I needed to find another organisation that ‘made a difference’, so was delighted to be offered a role of State Office Manager’s for the Australian ‘leg’ of a major international NFP.

    Again, while it was never about the money, eventually travelling two hours each day to what was supposed to be a 30 hour a week role where I’d consciously taken a $15k pay drop (to do something worthwhile and meaningful) and found I was paying $56 per week in parking, doubled my petrol costs and then had the parameters of my role drastically changed when preparing the annual budget was added to my tasks and turned my role into 50 hours a week (finance is not my strength). Even though I loved the environment and what we were all working towards, the stress of putting so much energy into something that I had no training in combined with suffering my state manager’s frustration, finally led me to hand in my resignation with the directive that she should hire someone who would enjoy that kind of work and hours.

    Since then – I have been running Life Skills and Resilience training in high schools and contracting to registered training organisations (another NFP) working with teens at risk of leaving school early or equipping those who have left early – to become work ready and develop their level of employability and facilitating the NEIS program for business start-ups.

    5 years later I am now considering working for another NFP because I still consider my highest priority is to work with organisations who match my values and are genuinely making a difference especially in reducing poverty (my own poverty aside)….

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