nonprofit should outsource

Why your nonprofit should outsource

While outsourcing in nonprofits is relatively rare compared to most other businesses, the idea has become more popular. The economy is changing, with more people working from home than ever. And we have so many tools at our disposal to help us work from a distance. It can certainly work well for your nonprofit. Here are some reasons your nonprofit should outsource:


    • Contracting out certain jobs can take some of the work off the desks of busy employees.
    • It’s more efficient. Full-time employees can end up sitting at their desks surfing Facebook because they’re guaranteed a salary whether they have work to do or not. Contractors have to work hard to win jobs and stay on top of their game. If they’re worth their while, (which they are if you’ve vetted them well), they won’t waste time or money.
    • If the person you’ve hired on a contract isn’t working out, you can choose not to renew without having to fire someone in the office.
    • Your nonprofit should outsource because you can find the best workers this way. Contract workers have to constantly compete for jobs and so they’re more likely to be creative, responsible, and keep their knowledge updated. Once you’ve hired that full-time employee, they’re more likely than most freelancers to become complacent.
    • Your nonprofit should outsource to save money. By hiring only the person you need, when you need them, your nonprofit won’t spend money on a full-time salary with benefits.


Are there exceptions to these rules? Absolutely. But if your organization is trying to survive a budget crunch, maybe it’s time to take a hard look at how outsourcing can work for you.


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  • Avatar for Joy Stephens

    Joy Stephens

    04.11.2011 at 08:35 Reply

    Hello Megan,
    Excellent perspective on outsourcing! As a full service consulting company to the social sector, (the word nonprofit is so misleading), we’ve built our company on being an outsourced vendor in the areas of fundraising & marketing. For one of our clients, we manage the entire organization – there is no staff. We report directly to the board.

  • Avatar for Andy Kristian

    Andy Kristian

    04.11.2011 at 08:35 Reply

    Great post and great comments. I free lance as a visual media consultant and photographer for non profits in East Africa. The competetiin is stiff, so it makes one do their very best. Obviously I also love the fact that the work I do contributes to bringing meaningful social change. Again, I agree with the post. Africa especially has some of the post complacent non profit staffers. I am African and have worked with them, so I am not merely generalizing.

  • Avatar for Tamar Cloyd

    Tamar Cloyd

    04.11.2011 at 08:37 Reply

    Excellent post, Megan! Definitely re-tweeting and re-posting 🙂 And I agree about the complacency thing. I’ve worked at way too many nonprofits where a “go-getter” attitude was either not the norm or discouraged. I once had a supervisor tell me to “chill out” when I asked for more work! How can fundraisers chill out when it’s our job to hustle? Anyway, great post and cheers to the opportunity to freelance…

    • Avatar for Shala Graham

      Shala Graham

      01.01.2012 at 13:23 Reply

      Tamar, they were very lucky to have you!

      Claire, I totally agree with your second point! If you can find excellent volunteers for your needs, great, but some choose volunteers because of cost and end up hurting the growth of their organization.

  • Avatar for Claire Wagner

    Claire Wagner

    04.11.2011 at 08:37 Reply

    Thanks for writing this. I’m a freelancer and I love my nonprofit clients. However, I will contribute two more thoughts: 1) Before my latest freelancing stint, I worked full-time in a large nonprofit for 2 years and didn’t meet anyone who was complacent about their job, especially in this economy. 2) Our competition as freelancers in the nonprofit sector is often not full-time workers but the perception that they can find a volunteer to do the same work for FREE. Usually this is totally misguided!

  • Avatar for Megan Hill

    Megan Hill

    04.11.2011 at 08:38 Reply

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Claire. I’m glad you didn’t encounter any complacency, but when I worked full-time in the nonprofit sector, I certainly encountered quite a bit, and the economy wasn’t great then, either. Employees don’t always seem to have the same drive to produce high-quality work if their job feels secure; freelancers, on the other hand, have to constantly produce good work because they often rely so heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations.

    The volunteer problem is an interesting one to me, and I’m not sure I’ve made up my mind about it yet. I’ve come across all-volunteer run organizations who are doing much better than those with paid employees. I suppose it depends on the situation. I say, good for those npos who can outsource for free and still achieve the same level of quality!

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