Leveraging Inbound Marketing for Nonprofits – Part Three: Inbound Marketing for Talent Acquisition

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You already know this, but attracting top talent to your nonprofit is crucial to achieving your mission. And it’s not easy. Over the last four years, nonprofits have reported their second biggest challenge is finding qualified staff for their organization. We can likely attribute this growing challenge to the rise in social enterprise organizations and B Corps – four years ago there were only 100 certified B Corps; today there are over 1,600 worldwide. That’s good for the world, but it makes talent acquisition more competitive for you.

Over the last four years, nonprofits have reported their second biggest challenge is finding qualified staff for their organization. Click To Tweet

Trying to find a candidate who meets the requirements of your open role, aligns with your mission and is a good culture fit is difficult. How do you find this perfect candidate, or, how do perfect candidates find you? Marketing. You need to put your organization’s best foot forward in employer branding and candidate sourcing. But it’s not as easy as putting an ad in the classifieds anymore. The recruitment game has changed drastically.

Only 21 percent of the global workforce is actively seeking a job. This means your ideal candidate may not yet be ready to make a move from their current organization. But they may be interested in learning more about why your nonprofit might be a great fit for their next career move. In marketing speak, they need to be nurtured.

Whether you’re actively recruiting for a role you need to fill now, or simply filling your pipeline with top talent for when the time is right, you should constantly be attracting the right candidates to your organization.

Inbound marketing is the key to your ongoing recruitment and nurturing processes. Let’s talk about why.

Why should I use inbound marketing for my nonprofit talent acquisition?

Inbound marketing for talent acquisition is a great way to drum up excitement about your organization and the roles within it. Inbound marketing allows you to capture potential candidates’ information –– even before they’re ready to apply –– and nurture them into applicants.

You’ve likely practiced traditional outbound marketing for your talent acquisition needs in the past like career fairs, LinkedIn mail and job board postings. These tactics are all important and should still be part of your talent acquisition strategy, but you’re missing another crucial component that can bring talent to you.

Inbound marketing proves a higher ROI on your marketing investment. That’s because it eliminates the uncertainties of outbound recruiting by putting only the right messages in front the right talent, at the right time.

How can I be sure I’m attracting the right candidates?

The first step to identifying candidates who fit the trifecta of culture, mission and skills is developing candidate profiles. These will be similar to your nonprofit’s stakeholder profiles. Create your ideal candidate on paper so you know exactly what to look for as you recruit talent.

Here’s how the trifecta impacts your candidate profiles, and your nonprofit as a whole:

Culture. It’s easy to jump ahead to what you want your culture to be like next year, five years from now or even 10 years from now when developing your profiles, but don’t do that. Think about the culture you have today, not the one you hope to have down the road, to find the ideal candidate for your organization right now. Then, think about the qualities you need your candidate to exude to be a true culture fit. This is beneficial for both you and them. It’s proven that employees who fit well with their organization are more likely to be happy at work and do well in their role.

Mission alignment. You want, and quite frankly, need, someone who believes in what your nonprofit has set out to accomplish. Your ideal candidate should be someone who understands the communities you serve, is passionate about making a difference and is eager to help you grow and achieve your mission.

Skill set. You’re hiring for a reason. You may need to bring in a new skill set to the team, or be looking to replace someone who has moved on. Either way, you need to find the right candidate to fill the gap. Think about whether you’d like this person to bring a new perspective to your organization. Diversity in thought, background and skills is key to helping you achieve your mission because you need fresh, new ideas when tackling challenges.

When building your candidate profiles, answer questions like:

  • Where are your ideal candidates normally looking for jobs?
  • What qualities do you want your candidates to have?
  • What type of experience are you looking for?
  • What are they looking for from an employer?
  • Are they active job seekers or passive?

The answers to these questions will inform how you initially bring candidates into your inbound marketing funnel.

Finally, the most important thing to consider when building your candidate profiles is addressing the question of why your nonprofit is a good fit for these job seekers. This ties back to you employer value proposition: what unique set of values you offer to your employees that give you a competitive advantage. As candidates try to sell you on why they’re the best fit for for your organization, you have to do the same for them and communicate those reasons effectively. In fact, 83 percent of global recruiting officers point to employer branding as a critical tool in hiring top talent.

As candidates try to sell you on why they’re the best fit for for your organization, you have to do the same for them and communicate those reasons effectively. Click To Tweet

How do I apply inbound marketing to our talent acquisition process?

In parts one and two of this series, we talked about how to use inbound marketing for fundraising and stakeholder education and activation. When attracting talent, your inbound marketing methods are the same: target a specific audience, capture their attention, collect their contact information, engage them with content and, in the case of recruiting, nurture them to their decision to join your team.  

inbound marketing for talent acquisition chart


At this stage, your priority is to get your employer value proposition in front of your ideal candidates outlined in your candidate profiles. Whether an active or passive job seeker stumbles upon your organization through search, reads an article in the news commending your work in the community or sees compelling content on your social media channels, your mission and vision needs to be front and center. This will allow you to communicate with impact and draw in an audience that can connect with what your nonprofit is looking to achieve.


At this point, you’ll have attracted a wide range of potential candidates who may be interested in working with your organization. It’s time to get them into the inbound marketing funnel.

59 percent of the workforce is made up of what’s considered ‘approachable’ job seekers. These folks are not actively seeking employment opportunities, but are still engaged in their exploration. You can grab these candidates’  –– and the active job seekers’  –– attention through strategic calls to action on your website. For example, showcase a case study where your organization made a difference in the communities you serve. When a candidates fills out a brief form on the case study landing page, you’ll have their email for further engagement and they will have learned more about your organization. Everyone wins.


Now, you can use regular email marketing messages to showcase job opportunities, your organization in the news, your impact numbers, case studies, awards and anything else that will share about the great work your nonprofit does –– and show that your organization is a great place to work. This will keep your organization top of mind whether a candidate is ready to make a move or not.

The key to inbound marketing is automating a set of targeted email nurture sequences to specific candidates who expressed interest in content you’ve laid out. Here’s an example nurture program that could engage your candidate pool for a specific role you’re looking to fill:

Email 1: 5 tips for standing out as a job applicant

Email 2: Feature an employee that loves their job

Email 3: Feature your current job opening with a CTA to apply for the role

You can also use lead scoring in your marketing automation system to monitor the most engaged candidates. Contacts that are actively interested in emails –– opening multiple times, clicking, downloading, etc. –– can be forwarded to your hiring manager for official vetting, follow up and interviews before the engagement program is finished.

Whether your organization is actively recruiting for a role, or just filling the funnel for when the time is right, having this inbound methodology in place will help your nonprofit find the right talent for your organization.

Make inbound marketing for talent acquisition part of your overall nonprofit marketing strategy.

nonprofit marketing plan workbook

Are you interested in learning how? Download our guide to developing the marketing plan your organization needs to achieve its mission.


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