People often ask me if we have trouble finding technical people for our tech for good nonprofit projects. I think they are surprised when I say no, we have pretty good luck finding product managers and software developers. Our bigger recruiting challenges are around non-engineering roles.
I’ve been thinking about this lately, especially as our Tech Matters team has been rapidly growing, but I’m having a big challenge with one particular non-technical role. This post is partly thinking out loud about my challenge, as well as hoping that it will trigger somebody (somebodies) great to apply!
One reason why it is easier to fill software developer and product manager roles is because the job is pretty much the same in the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. The difference is who the customer is and what the primary goal of the project is, profits versus social impact. For these positions, we’re looking for new team members who want to do meaningful social good with their well-understood skill sets.
It is harder when our nonprofit version of a role is distinctly different. For example, the one role I am trying hard to fill is a Sales/Outreach Lead for our Aselo social enterprise. The title is a hint about the challenge. In the for-profit world, this would be a sales role. However, we need someone to transcend the traditional sales role, because our social mission is not solely focused on making the sale. We are in deep partnership with our nonprofit users, so we need someone who is comfortable telling a helpline when our technology isn’t right for them. And, unlike most for-profit companies, we don’t turn our users over to a customer success group after the sale is made.
We try to capture some of this by adding the “outreach” label from the nonprofit sector. However, the skill set we specifically need is more likely to be found in the for-profit sector. Aselo is a contact center platform designed specifically with and for crisis response helplines. The Sales/Outreach Lead would be Aselo’s chief sales person. One ideal candidate background is an experienced salesperson of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms (like Aselo), but who is flexible enough to imagine applying those skills to making social impact. Another plausible candidate background might be MBAs with experience in partnership management or business development as well as the needed comfort with technology. This could be a perfect position for someone who wants to learn how to grow a social enterprise to large-scale impact.
I would love to get ideas of how to find people for these important roles that defy easy categorization. And, if you know someone who might be interested, please send them my way!