By Melissa Lagowski
Debates continue about the “great resignation” and the fast-rising salary demands that are running rampant in the current hiring climate (also known as wage compression). As nonprofits and associations strive to serve their missions with diminishing resources, many are struggling to find the experienced workers they need at a salary they can afford.
Just as frustrating, the labor shortage increases the demands on your existing staff (who are already taxed as a result of the pandemic), which results in higher levels of burnout.
So, what is an organization to do?
We’ve seen a recent rise in the number of nonprofits that now outsource their operational tasks rather than waste time with the hiring process (and the inevitable revolving-door syndrome that begets more recruiting). This allows you to “acquire” a whole team of more seasoned employees at a fraction of the cost of direct hiring. If you’ve had challenges with relying on volunteers for help, read on about five reasons outsourcing may be your best bet:
1. Continuity and Consistency
When you partner with a company, you can expect greater continuity and consistency. You’ll work with one person or one team who is dedicated to your organization on an ongoing basis (or for the duration of a project). With that, all the different touchpoints— the various communication channels, materials or parts of a project—will have more consistency than if you worked with a rotation of staff or volunteers. Consistency ensures nothing falls through the cracks and it projects a higher level of professionalism to anyone who comes in contact with your organization.
Outsourcing tasks ensures a commitment to the project and guarantees you have the right help when you need it. Volunteers may have unexpected conflicts, whereas by nature of having an established partnership, an agency won’t cancel or back out at the last minute. As an example, we recently assisted a client with an event, and on the day of the luncheon, one of our team members was out sick. As an outsourced partner, the client didn’t have to scramble to find someone else to help. Rather we worked to secure a replacement so the client never had to worry. That reliability saves nonprofits so much time and stress.
3. Training and Experience
While staff and volunteers have plenty of talents, an agency comes with a certain level of experience and know-how. In most instances, outsourcing means you’ll work with individuals who come to the job already trained. This background allows them to jump right in, do the job right and troubleshoot with ease. We’ve seen firsthand how working with trained, experienced people translates to a smoother execution or more efficient workflow. More specifically, our team has an understanding of industry-specific regulations, technology and programs that many junior staff and volunteers don’t (and shouldn’t be expected to) know.
Outsourcing your tasks to an agency means you have help exactly when you need it. When projects ebb and flow with timing or needs, you don’t have to put extra effort into recruiting volunteers or hiring/onboarding another staff member for work that’s not really consistent. Many organizations only need additional part-time resources on a seasonal basis or for an event lead-up. Tapping into one company that can step up or scale back as your needs change takes the guesswork out of it.
5. Time and Cost Savings
As is the case with most nonprofits, you and your staff are often working at (or over) capacity. You don’t have the extra time or budget to repeatedly train staff, interns or volunteers while also correcting inconsistencies at the same time you are juggling a full plate. Partnering with an agency produces a seamless experience that typically translates to significant time and cost savings. As an example, prior to working with our team, volunteers at a local event didn’t understand certain rules and regulations and client procedures, so they ended up making mistakes that ultimately cost the organization. The client was able to resolve and prevent this issue by having our team of experienced event staff to train, monitor and manage on-site volunteers. When our team is briefed in advance of events or fundraisers, the client only has to give that one-time briefing rather than train every individual volunteer—a major time savings.
As an added bonus, outsourcing to an agency eliminates a portion of payroll taxes and workers’ compensation insurance and other costly benefits that your organization provides. When onboarding a recent project, Big Buzz Idea Group saved the client almost 30% of their annual budget when we could combine multiple outsourced services and reduce the overhead (recruiting costs, training costs, salary, benefits, etc.) that is associated with hiring replacement staff.
Now consider your organization’s needs and the key qualities that are a priority to you when bringing on help. Are you tired of searching for and training new team members all too frequently? Have you had trouble finding the qualified staff needed to handle specific tasks? Have you noticed that budget resources are diminishing while salary demands are exploding?
If so, it’s time to outsource some of those daily tasks and watch your stress levels melt away. When outsourcing, it’s important to find the right company that’s a good match for your nonprofit organization. Like the perfect employee, the ideal partner will be dedicated to your mission, committed to transparency, training and consistency, and should be willing to act as an extension of your organization.