Small Charity Week

​Recruiting on a Budget: how to get noticed and attract great employees to your small charity

Blog post   •   May 31, 2016 16:09 BST

So the board have approved the budget to recruit a new member of the team, (no mean feat), or you’re replacing an existing staff member, but just how do you go about ensuring that you use the money wisely and recruit an employee with the right skills set and personality that will fit with your organisation. Before you go anywhere near placing an advert, you might like to consider the following:

Job description and job title - do they reflect the focus and scope of the role or are they too broad? If so, what are the 3 must haves which should be listed at the top of the job spec? When recruiting to a brand new post, or re-defining an existing one, it’s very easy to try and put every task imaginable that isn’t being fulfilled elsewhere (or someone is trying to offload), into one job. Try to be focused and realistic about the role and be really clear on what you are looking for and make sure that everyone involved in the process understands the brief too and are all on the same page!

Salary - is the salary realistic? A quick check on job sites such as Guardian Jobs or Charity Job, and organisations of a similar size to your charity can provide a guide to benchmark how your salary fits with similar roles for which you’ll be competing. If the salary is on the low side and your budget is fixed with little scope to increase it, think about creative ways that you might be able to work around this. For example, could the job be offered on the same salary but for 4 days a week? This might then attract those who would otherwise not be interested in the role.

Be Flexible - what benefits does your organisation offer? Flexible benefits go along way in influencing some potential employees, whether it’s flexible working, term time working, or something else. Understand what is likely to be important to your target employee.

Recruitment process - have a clear idea of what the process will look like and who will be involved in terms of responding to enquiries, processing applications, timelines for shortlisting, interview dates and feedback and make sure that everyone involved in any part of the process understands this too. You may only be recruiting one person, but you will need to ensure that everyone who comes into contact with your organisation receives a warm welcome and goes away feeling inspired by your charity and its work. You never know, even if they don’t become your next recruit, they could become a future supporter, volunteer, trustee or ambassador for your charity if they are suitably impressed!

Finding candidates

Once you’ve considered the above, it’s now time to think about how to attract your future team member.

Create a punchy job advert and promote via your website and social media channels. You should include the title, salary, location, a teaser sentence about your charity, along with website, but try to avoid the curse of knowledge and include everything about your charity. Think what is likely to be important from the candidate’s perspective and create an interesting advert around their needs. Think creatively - where might you post this for free or at little cost eg your website, charity job sites and partner channels, etc.

Using social media

The great benefit of social media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook is that you are able to promote your opportunities and organisation alongside bigger charity brands and therefore, potentially benefit from the wider community. There are several tweeters out there who will re-tweet or re-post your content if you include the appropriate hashtags eg #charities #charity #marketing etc. Encourage your volunteers and supporters to re-post on their social media channels too. If you have a LinkedIn account (and I strongly recommend that you do), there are various groups where you can post your vacancies free of charge, potentially reaching an infinite number of potential active and passive candidates.

Networking - believe in the value of networking! Whether you tap up your volunteers, supporters, friends, colleagues or attend face-to-face events, word of mouth referrals provide one of the most powerful recruiting tools. Check out our event in Small Charity Week which aims to match trustees and charities. Create a network map of all your contacts and even some of their contacts and consider the best approach for contacting them about your vacancy.

Consider using a specialist recruitment consultancy

Don’t underestimate the time involved in recruiting the right candidate. Whilst recruitment consultants will usually charge a fee, a good one will be able to offer expert advice and guidance on the job spec, salary and where to find suitable candidates, as well as saving you time shortlisting, filtering enquiries and qualifying applications. Unlike paid adverts, you only pay a recruitment consultant on completion of successful results and some may even offer flexible payment terms.

Act quickly

Good candidates who are actively job hunting will get snapped up quickly, so if you receive a strong application, follow up immediately and try to get them booked into an interview as soon as possible. I’ve lost count of the number of times that employers have taken too long to make decisions on potential new recruits and have lost them in the process. By adopting a customer service approach and placing the candidate at the centre of your search, you will be increasing your likelihood of a successful recruitment campaign.

Good luck!

Debbie Hockham is the Director and Co-Founder of the I Am Group, a networking, learning and ethical recruitment company dedicated to the charity and not-for-profit sector. You can find out more at