Despite many predictions to the contrary, U.S. employers have continued to add workers to their payrolls and the unemployment rate has remained low — at 3.7% as of November 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Is your not-for-profit among the employers that need fresh staffers? The new year is a good time to start looking, but make sure you consider a couple of issues before you place any ads.
1. Your Workforce
First, do you really need to hire? Even if you plan to expand services and introduce new programs, volunteers may be capable of picking up the slack. Or current staffers may be underused on projects that are stagnating or winding down. Carefully review your nonprofit’s priorities and consider eliminating programs that aren’t meeting expectations so you can redeploy human resources.
If staffers have been working from home since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may want to call them back to the office before making the decision to hire. It’s possible some staffers will refuse to return to the office full time. In that case, you’ll need to decide whether to keep them working from home and on the payroll or start searching for new employees. Just keep in mind that you could have trouble finding new workers at compensation levels your organization can afford to offer.
2. Your Finances
The second major consideration, of course, is money. Thanks to generous donors and grant-makers, some nonprofits have bounced back and even expanded in the post-pandemic period. Others have been forced to pinch pennies just to maintain the existing programs. Wherever your nonprofit falls on this spectrum, ensure you can fit new staffers into your budget before hiring.
Remember that when you hire full-time employees, the expense isn’t limited to salaries or hourly wages — you’ll also be paying employment taxes and benefits. In many cases, it’s cheaper to outsource functions, particularly accounting, IT and human resources work. Outsourcing offers the additional benefit of being temporary if you aren’t happy with the service.
Finally, even if you can afford to hire or outsource, the fact remains that nonprofits are obligated to be careful financial stewards. Donors, watchdog groups and the media demand it. So consider how you’ll make the most of any new staffing budget before you spend it.
Making the Decision
The economy in the U.S. remains relatively strong, making it a good time to hire for many employers. However, this situation could change. Ultimately, the decision to hire depends on your organization’s staffing needs and financial resources. We can help by reviewing your budget and suggesting ways to free up cash.