For most organisations to perform successfully in the modern day, they will need professionals who are equipped with a balance of technical, softer and commercial skills. This is a particular challenge in the charitable arena where possessing a commercial mind set is becoming ever more important. So at a time when funding has been cut and many charities have struggled to offer greater financial incentives to staff, what can they do to attract and retain top talent with this elusive blend of skills?

Funding cuts

Before the global recession, charities had struggled to compete with private sector businesses when it came to salaries and additional employee perks and that was when at least some were supported by significant Government funding combined with public donations. However, since the downturn both of these revenue streams have dropped off considerably. Reports suggest that public donations fell by 20% in 2012 alone while Government funding decreased by £1.3bn last year. This is obviously bad news all round, specifically from a staffing point of view, and has put added pressure on charity HR teams who now have to do a lot more to entice and retain talented professionals who can open avenues to alternative and more sustainable revenue streams.

Attractive EVP

Across the board, members of both the emerging and existing workforces are increasingly looking for much more from an employer than their predecessors. For example, some studies have suggested that the younger generations in the workforce are looking for different factors in their employee contracts when compared to more experienced talent. Generation Y or ‘the millennials’ now often want job fulfilment and career progression over increased financial incentives. They also want to work in a role where they can make a mark and achieve a high level of personal satisfaction, a factor that’s perhaps more attainable in this sector than any other. This has meant that charities have the potential to recruit talent based on their attractive EVPs that offer a more open, transparent and innovative culture than many other organisations in both the public and private sectors. Charities also shouldn’t fail to highlight the benefit schemes they have on offer, as any additional bonus or pension packages as well as additional training opportunities, for example, will aid candidate attraction in an increasingly competitive environment.

Flexibility for all

Many organisations in the sector are offering the chance to work flexibly in an effort to retain and attract the very best talent. This type of employment contract has been steadily growing in popularity amongst professionals who want different things from their employers following the global downturn. An attractive work-life balance is now an important factor for many and can be used as a powerful tool in securing potential employees, particularly when this is regularly reviewed to ensure it’s still relevant to the needs of the workforce. In fact, flexible working has become so popular that the Government recently extended the right to request it to more than 20 million people across the country.

Invest in the best

However, sometimes there’s simply no ‘clever’ solution and while a valuable EVP and the potential to work flexibly can entice many individuals, occasionally charities will just have to pay what it takes to get the right person.  Roles in areas such as fundraising are vital to charities’ ongoing success and investing in a professional with an impressive track record – and a commercial mind set – is likely to be worth it.

How do you think charities can attract and retain talent?