The Cavity in Nonprofits Human Capital

The Cavity in Nonprofits Human Capital (downloadable pdf) by Anthony Parrish from the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Twin Cities. Former employees can be great resources – how do you engage them?


Human capital plays an incredibly important role for nonprofits – and getting the perfect employee can be a real challenge. Nonprofits typically don’t have recruiters or large human resource departments dedicated to finding top talent from the Ivy League, but nonprofits can find good fits, especially through informal local networks.

Keeping employees is another matter, with nonprofits fighting against turnover rates of nearly 20 percent. So what happens to those employees that have left? According to Nonprofit HR’s 2014 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey, 45 percent of nonprofit professionals leave to work for another nonprofit.

This is the gaping cavity in nonprofits’ strategy around human capital: nonprofits don’t treat their former employees like alumni. (Yes, you read correctly: alumni!)

Back in 2002, the Harvard Business Review identified four ways that ex-employees can benefit old employers:

  1. Rehires and referral sources
  2. Suppliers of intellectual capital
  3. Ambassadors, marketers, and lobbyists
  4. Investors

So let’s take a look at how those four could be applied to nonprofits.

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