I recently had the opportunity to attend a talk on NPO human resources at the Peter F. Drucker NPO Learning Center in Shanghai. People working in grassroots NPOs across Shanghai gathered in a beautiful historical building to discuss the challenges and strategies behind human resources for NPOs.
The talk was split into three different categories: organization’s infrastructure, volunteer versus full-time staff, employee loyalty. These are the quick take-home messages I received:
- Infrastructure: Just like in the business sector, it is important for NPOs to have a clear organizational structure. While there is no one golden structure that every organization should model after, it is important to evaluate an organization’s workflow and understand the strengths and weaknesses to the organization as a whole. Having a clear infrastructure helps the staff understand his/her role and the overall team’s performance and efficiency.
- Staffing: How does an organization best utilize the time and skillsets of a volunteer. This is one of the most common questions organizations face. The responses can be quite different. Each volunteer is different. Commitment level, skillsets, and abilities are all variable therefore NPOs should focus on the selection process, training and ultimately, communication.
- Loyalty: In a sector with a high burnout rate, it is important to evaluate people’s motivations to supporting this organization whether as a volunteer or full-time or part-time staff worker. By investing time and resources in developing each team member, the staff will in return be committed and loyal to the organization.
The most important takeaway is to always do your best with matching the right person with the right job. An organization’s infrastructure and human resources is the foundation of an NPO regardless of its stage.
Contributed by Simon Li