First insights into the key HR challenges of NGOs by Personio Foundation

At Personio Foundation, we are passionate about two things: excellent HR management and supporting non-profits to maximise their impact. These passions informed our decision to build an Impact Accelerator to help non profits tackle the HR challenges they face on a daily basis.

As we learn how to best support non profits with their challenges related to HR, we believe it is important to better understand the specific nature of these challenges. Early in 2022, Personio Foundation surveyed a sample of non profits globally and conducted a number of in-depth interviews with HR professionals in the sector. The key findings that emerged formed the basis of this whitepaper, findings we hope to build on as we have the opportunity to survey more and more non profit organisations.

Our whitepaper sets out the 6 key challenges that limit non profits’ ability to grow, to operate effectively and efficiently and that hamper their capacity to deliver impact.

Attracting talent
Whilst non-profits need highly skilled profiles, they often do not have the resources to pay competitive salaries or invest in HR. Donors’ focus on project funding and unwillingness to fund overheads is a key factor.

Retaining talent and managing turnover
Most surveyed NGOs report exceptional turnover – financial compensation and benefits play a part, as well as arduous working conditions, lack of training or career development. Some non profits focus on the sense of purpose and different lifestyle to retain staff.

Difficult working conditions
Whether it is the harsh reality of the social issues they are trying to tackle or poor infrastructure, working conditions in some non profits can be difficult. What’s more, burnout is common amongst non profit professionals.

Tracking and fostering performance
Lack of staff performance management can directly impact retention as non profit staff don’t feel sufficiently rewarded or recognised for their performance.

Complying with legal and regulatory issues
Complex legal, tax and regulatory environments can pose difficulties for non profits, particularly when they lack expert support. Some non profits also operate in environments that are openly hostile to their existence.

Lack of HRM processes and resources
The vast majority of NGOs would appear to lack dedicated, professional HR staff and the lack of tools, templates and processes renders HR management highly labour intensive.

Want to read more? Click here for the full whitepaper.