How nonprofit organizations attract the best talent

Jan 26,2023

Thai office staffHave you ever considered how nonprofit organizations attract employees who do not prioritize monetary rewards when choosing which organization to work for?

In reality, even nonprofit organizations must compete to attract the best talent from the same talent pool as other organizations. Yet, there are monetary constraints compared to commercial organizations. The priority is to ensure that compensation is competitive compared with other nonprofit organizations.

To compete to recruit from the same talent pool as commercial organizations, total reward strategies, a system that provides monetary, beneficial, and developmental rewards, come into play to attract talent for nonprofit organizations.

Talent management

Talent criteria for nonprofit organizations do not differ significantly from commercial organizations. To fit with the context of a nonprofit, we use all the same criteria, yet the weighting for each criterion may vary from a commercial organization.

As a mission-driven organization, our talent needs to grasp factors that reflect their passion, such as an aspiration and passion that can drive the organization forward to achieve impact for the greater good.

Emotional benefits

While commercial organizations may provide various benefits and perks for employees, as a nonprofit organization, we have to be more creative to compensate for the items that we cannot offer to employees. Sometimes, benefits that do not have monetary cost may provide greater value to our employees. Birthday leave and family gatherings for social activities to emphasize our culture of creating a greater impact on all in need are some of the items that can be offered as social benefits. The last activity that we gathered before COVID restrictions was to meet and greet the blind institute. Many employees brought their kids or relatives, and we demonstrated what it means for others to be giving and recognized by other people. These types of emotional benefits offer something a little special that money cannot buy.

Career advancement

Unlike other nonprofit organizations, where many focus on core areas such as children or minorities and assistance to help refugees, Kenan has three disciplines where employees can enjoy working across and developing their talents across different areas. After some time, they will have a choice to mobilize themselves to other fields. Those employees who have worked in business and economic development for a certain amount of time and are experienced managing projects can transfer their knowledge and skills to other areas such as community development. This builds up their employability for the future; running different projects in parallel can help accelerate employees’ profiles and personal brands.

As a small organization, the transfer of knowledge and learning is very informal, making it viable for all levels of employees. To advance in the nonprofit sector, employees should have multiple skills rather than a “not my job” mindset.


Streamlined nonprofit budgets often mean that nonprofits can’t rely solely on salaries to recruit competitively. Nonprofit HR teams need to take a different, creative approach to compensation to create an attractive, mission-driven workplace.

When looking at total reward strategies, it is essential to consider both tangible and non-tangible rewards, which could include:

  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Work and life balance
  • Performance and recognition
  • Development and career opportunities

These factors are some of the key unique selling points of working for a nonprofit organization. If you are interested in working for a nonprofit organization or would like to learn more about Kenan’s work, do not hesitate to contact us at

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