Human Resources

Idealist.org describes the unique challenges of Human Resources (HR) in a nonprofit setting:

While there are many parallels between nonprofit and for-profit HR, there are unique aspects of mission-based nonprofit HR which merit a unique approach. Support for these needs can be hard to find, and difficult to navigate. They include:

  • Staff without a formal HR background
  • The use of unpaid staff (volunteers)
  • Limited resources/budget
  • Lack of affordable training for staff
  • High turnover
  • Staff burnout
  • Managing office administration
  • Board of Directors support

These major differences can be grouped under economic, structural, legal, and cultural categories. Legally, the nonprofit human resources function deals with volunteers, staffs high-risk programs, and is subject to intense scrutiny.

In addition, nonprofit organizations are often mission—rather than market—driven, which can affect performance assessment and HR measurement. Values and consensus often play a larger role in nonprofit culture, and employees are often recruited for and driven by sacrifice, passion, and commitment in addition to skills and experience. Even in larger nonprofits, limited budgets have an obvious effect on compensation as well as HR’s ability to provide for staff training and development. Finally, nonprofits are often structurally complex, with staff operating multiple programs for multiple stakeholders.

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