A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action
Last Revised: Mar 10, 2017 - Initial Posting: Mar 28, 2007

The Bridgespan Group's Nonprofit Hiring Toolkit explores important steps to the hiring process that, when done well and thoroughly, will help you find and hire the best talent for your open positions.


The Bridgespan Group’s mission is work to build a better world by strengthening the ability of mission-driven organizations and philanthropists to achieve breakthrough results in addressing society’s most important challenges and opportunities.  Bridgespan has developed the Nonprofit Hiring Toolkit and the Nonprofit CEO Transitions Resource Center (see item 8 below) to support effective nonprofit hiring and onboarding efforts.

Hiring decisions are challenging, and engaging in a thorough process requires time and energy.  In addition, every hiring decision contains an element of risk and ultimately requires a leap of faith.  No matter how well you know your final candidate, it’s impossible to be 100 percent certain how he or she will perform in the new role. However, executing a disciplined, rigorous search process like the one outlined in this toolkit will help to mitigate the risks.  Access the Toolkit online or PDF.

The toolkit breaks the hiring process into eight steps:

  1. Building the Recruiting Team - Identifying a team of individuals in your nonprofit organization to be part of hiring process is a crucial first step to making a great hire.  The team will be your support system for helping define the position, screen resumes, interview candidates and manage the new hire's transition into his or her new role and your organization - see more.
  2. Writing the Job Description - A clear and comprehensive job description is key to attracting candidates who fit well with the role you’re working to fill. The following articles and sample job descriptions can help you develop descriptions that will attract candidates - see more.
    Additional resource from Bridgespan: Nonprofit Job Description Toolkit.
  3. Sourcing Candidates - Skilled candidates aren't always easy to find, especially in a competitive market.  Two articles are featured, which discuss approaches to sourcing candidates and tools you can use. your organization takes time, relationship building, and the tools you can use - see more.
  4. Processing Applications and Screening Resumes - Creating a system for reviewing applications and resumes will help you improve your chances of including the most relevant candidates in your interview pool, including uncovering some hidden gems.  This piece discusses key steps and shares an assessment tool you can use to evaluate candidate resumes - see more.
  5. Conducting Interviews - The interview is the first opportunity for the nonprofit organization and the candidate to get to know one another, so it is imperative to prepare well.  Start preparing during the resume screening process by compiling a list of questions and/or issues you would like to probe with each interviewee. Three articles are featured, which provide general guidance on the process as well as interview question advice: (a) Conducting Successful Interviews, (b) Sample Interview Questions, and (c) Legal and Illegal Interview Questions.
  6. Checking References - Checking references is critical in making the final decision between top candidates. Reference checks can reveal information that not only can help you determine your top choice but also can help you better understand how the new employee might transition in to the new role and your nonprofit organization - see more.
  7. Extending an Offer - Reaching the point of extending an offer to your first-choice candidate is exciting. This piece provides some guidance on extending offers as well as a template for writing the offer letter - see more.
  8. Managing a New Employee's Transition - Making a successful hire doesn't stop at the offer letter. Three articles are featured, which can help you develop an onboarding plan and set expectations with our new hire: (a) Managing a New Employee's Transition (Overview), (b) Set Your New Nonprofit CEO Up for Success: Start With an Employment Agreement, and (c) Nonprofit CEO Transitions Resource Center.

Some stand-alone pieces excerpted from the toolkit can be accessed under the “Of Interest” section on the right side of this toolkit’s webpage to help you quickly read up on key topics.


Conducting an effective hiring process for senior management positions is critically important because strong leaders—armed with robust strategies and sufficient capital—can create great results.


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