By Rebecca Worters
You're a volunteer or a busy staff person for a
nonprofit organization. Judy or Fred just took
another job and you need to fill the vacant position.
The dread settles in. You picture stacks of resumes,
endless phone calls, interviews, reference checks. A
light briefly appears -- "I could hire someone to do all
that for us!" and then is immediately snuffed out
by -- "Yeah right, I can't afford it, it's not in the
Do yourself a favor and take a closer look.
Time. A thorough search takes about 200
hours. This includes defining the position, placing
ads, screening, interviewing and reference checking.
To make an outstanding hire, you need to recruit
quality candidates who are happy in their current
positions. That takes research, hundreds of phone
calls and timely communication with potential
candidates. It's helpful to multiply the number of
hours you spend on the search by your hourly wage
to gauge the value of the time spent.
Money. When a revenue producing position
such as a development director or executive director
is vacant, you can assume your organization will
realize about 70% of its normal revenue during the
vacancy. This loss of revenue can continue for up to
6 months after the position is filled. A search firm
can reduce the time of vacancy by up to 8-12
When a position is vacant, the money to pay the
salary is budgeted. Those savings allow you to
expend the money necessary to do a top-notch
search with an experienced recruiter.
If you are in a revenue producing position, consider
how spending your time outside of your normal duties
will detract from your organization's bottom line.
Public Relations. In nonprofits, everyone is
busy. That's why candidates' resumes are not
always acknowledged promptly. That's why you may
advertise the position in March and not get around to
reviewing resumes until June. Maybe the niece of an
important donor is part of the applicant pool, and her
candidacy is mishandled. Working with a search firm
is a sure way to make sure you are communicating
with applicants appropriately and moving the search
along as quickly as possible.
If you've got an opening, check out our online calculators. They will help you
decide if you can afford search firm services. You
may find out you can't afford not to.