Human Resources and the Not–for-Profit Sector: A Mutually Rewarding Partnership

Carolynne Mahood

By Carolynne Mahood, CHRP

Not-for-profit organizations contribute significantly to society and communities by supporting a large variety and cross-section of causes. However, Canadian not-for-profit organizations continue to bear the conflicting impact of budget cuts and increasing demands for their services; some organizations receive funding from various agencies, while many are required to raise funds through various activities for economic sustainability. Many not-for-profit organizations are and will be highly dependent upon volunteers as the demand for their services continues. According to Imagine Canada’s Eighth Edition Sector Monitor 2014, conducted between October 31, 2013 and November 29, 2013:

Demand is Up

Just over half of charity leaders (53%) say their organization has experienced increased demand over the previous year, up from 50% in mid-2011.

Skilled Volunteering

Skilled volunteering is the practice of using work-related knowledge and expertise in a volunteer capacity. At one time, volunteering entailed such things as selling tickets, stuffing envelopes, entering data. Over time, organizations have realized that by engaging talented people and matching their skills and abilities to appropriate projects, both the volunteers and the charitable or not-for-profit organization benefit – volunteers learn and contribute information, ideas and practices that contribute to the success and growth of the organization.

Half of charity leaders predict stronger demand for their charity’s products and services, up from 44% a year ago and 42% two years ago.” 1

Human Resource Contributions

Strong Human Resource practices are integral to a successful organization. Research continues to indicate the increasingly strategic value Human Resource practitioners contribute to organizations. As the Human Resource profession transforms it continues to require more specialized skills, certification and professional credentials. Sharing this expertise with a sector that realistically can’t afford to hire Human Resource professionals but badly needs their skills and knowledge will result in a win-win situation for all parties.

Possible Partnerships

There are many initiatives Human Resource Professionals and the not-for-profit sector can implement to develop a mutually beneficial partnership, including:

  • “What’s In It for Me” – promoting the benefits of volunteering to the HR sector. Those benefits include:
    -giving back
    -learning new skills
    -learning about a new sector
    -gaining work experience
    -satisfying professional requirements opportunity to share   knowledge and expertise increasing employment potential
    -making new contacts
    -life enrichment
  • Enlist employers. Advocating for employers to further enhance their Corporate Social Responsibility practices by supporting Human Resource professionals in voluntary endeavors, e.g. giving them paid time off to contribute their skills and expertise to the not-for-profit sector. While some BC organizations currently offer this practice.
  • Go to the Source. Encouraging Human Resource associations to post on their websites free of charge, or at a subsidized rate, volunteer opportunities in the not-for-profit sector.
  • Training and Development. Influencing Human Resource associations and educational institutions to develop training that encourages alignment between Human Resource professionals and the not-for-profit sector, such as mentorship programs.
  • Build on what’s There. Developing a strong relationship between Human Resource associations, educational institutions and organizations that are recognized as not-for- profit champions, such as Vantage Point, Charity Village, Association of Fundraising Professionals, etc. to share resources and expertise.

So What are We Waiting For?

I’m a strong believer that the two sectors can develop a Mutually Rewarding Partnership. All it takes is lots of motivated people with time, ideas, passion and enthusiasm. I’m up for it – are you? If so, e-mail me at, call me at 604 727-2726 or join my linked in group, the BC Human Resource and Non-Profit Exchange and let’s get started!

Carolynne Mahood has extensive Human Resource experience gained from local and national private, public, and not for profit organizations and is certified as a CHRP by the BC Human Resource Management Association. She currently develops and delivers courses in Human Resources at Vancouver Community College. In addition, she is President of the board of a not- for –profit organization, and is the principal of Human Element Resources.

1 Imagine Canada Sector Monitor

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