Your Nonprofit HR Challenges: How HCM Software Can Help




Nonprofit organizations address a wide range of needs that may otherwise go unmet — whether in a local community or on a state, national, or even global level. Nonprofits may vary in their mission, but no matter their area of focus, they need a dedicated workforce to help them successfully execute it. 


Yet retaining talented employees these days is a struggle nearly everywhere you look, including in the nonprofit arena. Recent data shows that as many as 45% of nonprofit employees plan to leave their jobs by 2025. In an industry that can have high employee turnover, it’s more important than ever to keep nonprofit employees engaged and satisfied. 


The lion’s share of the responsibility for this commonly falls on the human resources (HR) team, and it doesn’t come without challenges. Here’s a closer look at some of the biggest HR challenges nonprofits face and the solutions that can have the greatest impact in helping you retain quality employees and continue the important work of your organization. 


HR Challenges in the Nonprofit Industry


Instead of profiting off sales, as for-profit enterprises do, nonprofits rely on donations, grants, and other sources of funding to make up their operating budgets. They have to use those budgets carefully to ensure critical needs are being met. But this can limit nonprofits, with fewer resources to proactively measure and analyze data and improve operations and decision-making. 


These types of limitations play out in some of the more common HR challenges you may already be familiar with:


  • Employee development. Nonprofit employees are sometimes in positions that require skills or training they don’t currently have. But in-depth, on-the-job training takes time and resources that not every nonprofit can afford. As a result, basic training as well as ongoing career development may be piecemeal at best or lacking altogether. Without proper learning and development, employees are more likely to get frustrated and lose motivation.

  • Compensation. Nonprofit employees generally make less than they would if they worked in the corporate world. While salaries may be lower, the employee benefits packages and incentives nonprofits are able to offer are usually excellent. This trade-off can be a great selling point to new hires and existing employees, but it requires that hiring managers and other HR staff know how to present it in the right way so that talent feels fairly compensated.

  • Volunteer management. Nonprofits can use their budgets more wisely when they have volunteers on hand to help with specialized tasks. But that also means having a system in place to manage volunteers, which may require other employees to take on that task in addition to the day-to-day responsibilities they already have. 


These challenges are not insurmountable, though. Like much of the for-profit industry, the nonprofit industry is going through its own digital transformation. Staying open to technology and having digital savviness can help you harness the right tools to address these challenges and optimize your human capital


How HR Software for Nonprofits Provides Greater Visibility Into Staff


Utilizing HR software for nonprofits can help you truly see and understand your employees so you can engage, manage, and support them better. A solution that integrates performance and coaching, learning, and position management provides the comprehensive capabilities your HR team needs to focus on employee engagement.  


For example, nonprofit managers can:


  • Schedule regular check-ins with employees all year — rather than once during an annual performance review — to have meaningful conversations and give valuable feedback.

  • Easily access a record of employee engagements to keep track of who may need more.

  • Provide targeted and continuous learning opportunities to help all employees grow and develop.

  • Understand which employees can be tasked with different or more challenging work as they develop.

  • Make more informed decisions about budgets, salaries, benefits, volunteers, and staffing plans, taking into account current positions and future needs.


At the same time, nonprofit employees can:


  • Collaborate with managers on check-in agendas, supplying their own questions that cover everything from the day-to-day work all the way up to long-term and ongoing career development.

  • Reveal areas of interest and career goals to managers.

  • Stay connected to those interests and goals, ensuring they aren’t overlooked and that managers are actively helping to achieve them.

  • Drive their own self-learning in conjunction with employer-specified training and programs.

  • Feel more empowered and engaged in their role as well as in their relationships with managers and co-workers.


With more visibility into employees, your nonprofit has a greater ability to understand the needs of your workforce and to reiterate the important role your employees play in the success of the overarching mission. You can improve the efficiency, communication, and processes of your human capital management (HCM) efforts while at the same time respect, nurture, and engage employees in the best ways to ensure greater employee retention. 


The Value of a Strong Nonprofit Team


With the right nonprofit solution, you can store, track, and manage comprehensive information about your workforce so you can make better, more strategic decisions around labor, costs, and funding that are central to nonprofit operations. Even more importantly, you can prioritize employee engagement by finding the most effective ways of managing, developing, and supporting them. With a strong, dedicated, and empowered team, your nonprofit is well-positioned to achieve its goals. 


Interested in learning more about how HCM can help nonprofits become more efficient? Click here to download our white paper.


Stay Current in Your People Operations

Especially in today’s war for talent, managing your organization’s people requires up-to-date and insightful planning and reporting capabilities.  


One of the most challenging aspects of business planning is developing a staffing plan. The plan is critical for HR to execute on recruiting and backfilling to ensure the organization has qualified individuals filling critical positions.


But even after a staffing plan is in place, many organizations lack visibility into the plan when it comes to turnover, movement among positions, new hires, etc. Business-driven decisions are difficult when you can't see real-time data to where the opening is and the analytics needed to understand the organization’s turnover. 

Once an organization has a single source for the staffing plan, the recruiting team can more effectively and proactively recruit to fill these roles. The dashboards provide the visibility needed to properly maintain this staffing plan over time. For example, if you are at 70% of your staffing plan, it is difficult to hit your sales numbers, launch a new product, etc. Having insight into an organizational chart allows leaders to easily see the gaps across teams, with regard to where there are openings. This awareness creates urgency and accountability to staff the business. 

Interested in learning more about how HCM software can help organizations measure what matters, build effective Objectives and Key Results (OKR) management methodologies, and gain the real-time visibility needed to evaluate the health of a business? Click here to read SyncHR’s white paper.

We are here to support with efficient, accurate, and cost-effective nonprofit workforce management solutions. To learn more about human resources for nonprofit organizations and how technology can help, click here to view our nonprofit solution.



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John Cuellar

John Cuellar

John is responsible for SyncHR’s product, engineering, and system operations teams. He is focused on streamlining the business processes related to HCM and finance by distributing SyncHR to all members of the workforce and by using patented security and workflow to control these developments. John is also responsible for delivering SyncHR as a cloud based application with “extreme ratio” financial metrics.

He has a background in engineering, workplace applications, and business administration, bringing over 25 years of experience deploying strategic HCM applications. Prior to co-founding SyncHR, John was the CEO of Harbor Technologies, since acquired by Mellon Financial Corporation. Previous to Harbor Technology Group, he spent an internship with the Swiss Bank Corporation in their derivatives pricing and trading group and also worked as a senior manager for the US Navy. John received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and his Master of Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley.

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