Good digital talent has always been challenging to recruit for irrespective of the sector. Yet with the demands currently being placed on charities attracting the right talent is more important than ever. 

What is just as important is securing the right candidate who will then stay in post, and is truly committed to making a difference. 

Here at Stopgap we’ve worked alongside charities for years to help them find the right candidates for digital roles. Growing digital skills across the sector is a big part of our mission, which is why we are so excited to be partnering with the Zoe Amar Digital team on this year’s Charity Digital Skills Report. 

There are three things which we advise charities to emphasise when they are recruiting, which we see as unique strengths to the sector. We would love to see more charities talking about these. 

Flexible working

Many charities were ahead of the curve with flexible working long before lockdown.

Where not for profit clients can really help to secure good digital talent is through the flexibility they can offer candidates. And this is something that they have led on even before the pandemic caused a new workplace revolution with hybrid and remote working.  Flexibility is now the single biggest driver in determining whether or not a candidate decides to pursue an application.   And this isn’t just referring to hybrid working but flexible working in all its forms. 

We have several clients that have allowed candidates to work and pursue gardening courses or their massage business by doing compressed hours. Not for profits aren’t generally in the office more than 2 days a week and more often than not it’s just one day which is enormously attractive to candidates who aren’t keen on a regular commute or don’t live in London, meaning a long commute each time they come into the office. In a recent conversation with a well known, global charity, they told me that they had no mandated office days but did offer a weekly Wednesday breakfast to encourage attendance, more for cultural and social benefit than anything else, and had found that almost 65% of employees turned up on a regular basis. 

Other charities we advise have allowed candidates to work fully remotely in order to secure the best possible candidate for the role. We’ve found that candidates prioritise flexibility over salary when accepting a role. 

Being open minded about sector experience 

We’ve found that charities are open to recruiting from all sectors. This is not always the case outside the sector. 

Whilst there are plenty of great candidates already working in the sector, charities sometimes ask us about where there may be opportunities to spread the word about roles to the private sector. Attracting private sector candidates to not for profit roles isn’t always as challenging as you’d think.

A lot of private sector candidates are attracted by working for a cause, to give their work meaning and to contribute back to society in some way.   This can mean that they are willing to take a reasonable reduction in salary.    It’s also helped that mid and senior level digital salaries within the not for profit sector have become a little more competitive.

Where not for profit clients can run into trouble is through the perception that they might not be commercial enough, their IT infrastructure might seem out -dated, there is no funding for projects to be properly delivered or that the strategic direction isn’t clearly outlined. So it’s really  worthwhile for the charity hiring to have clarity on these issues so as to hire the best talent there is.  

Charities work hard to earn trust

We have seen first hand how much work charities put into building strong relationships with donors and supporters. We also know, from working alongside our charity clients for many years, that they are collaborative and take time to build close working relationships. This needs to be reinforced by the recruitment process. 

Having a focussed job description is the start point with which to set the scene; closely followed by a structured interview process, with time for questions and answers from both sides. Knowing what additional, soft benefits are to the future employee is also a sometimes overlooked but important detail, preferably sent out with the JD at the initial briefing stage. 

By emphasising the three points above when recruiting, charities will be able to find talented digital candidates who share their passion for the causes they represent.

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Author: Zoe Vannozzi

Zoe works focusing on a range of marketing and digital roles, both freelance and permanent, across the charity, education, and public sector industries. Before becoming a consultant, she experienced the recruitment process from multiple angles as both a Stopgap candidate and client. She uses this comprehensive insight to ensure that the recruitment process runs smoothly and seamlessly.