Nonprofit Executive Search Firms vs. Standard “Headhunters”

By Laurie Minx
Director of Communications
The Moran Company “We Find Great Nonprofit Executives”

There are many search firms throughout the country, but only some are dedicated to working solely with nonprofit organizations. At The Moran Company, we know there is a difference between executive-level searches for nonprofit organizations versus for-profit companies. Here are a few key differences in our approach versus that of a standard “headhunter”.

A nonprofit executive search firm like The Moran Company…

  • Works only with nonprofit organizations.
  • Is typically retained for a set fee to do a guaranteed search from start to finish while serving as a partner and gaining a deeper knowledge of the position and organization.
  • Understands the nuances of Board governance, organizational leadership, and fundraising, plus internal and external factors that affect nonprofits during transitions.
  • Involves search consultants with direct, senior-level experience in the nonprofit field.
  • Has strong professional networks for actively recruiting top talent as peers.
  • Customizes the search process and offers value-added advice for long-term success.

A standard “headhunter”…

  • Works primarily with for-profit companies and only some nonprofits, if any.
  • May work under a contingency fee structure, which means that a fee is paid “if” a successful candidate is found.
  • Often is not familiar with the intricacies of working with a Board and other stakeholders, and does not have particular expertise related to the position or nonprofit sector.
  • Involves general recruiters, usually with backgrounds in business or human resources.
  • May rely heavily on a standard database of job seekers.
  • Follows a basic recruitment approach designed to fill a vacancy.

In the end, we find that nonprofit leaders respond better when approached by “peers” in their field who are part of a nonprofit executive search firm versus a general “headhunter”. Plus, search consultants like ours with nonprofit backgrounds as executive directors and senior fundraisers are able to screen applicants more accurately than other firms because we ask behavior-focused questions and interpret the answers based on actual experience. By the time we pass along semi-final or final candidates for specific positions and organizations, we are confident in their abilities to excel in those roles because we have personally hand-picked them to have a lasting impact.

To learn more about how The Moran Company can assist your nonprofit with an upcoming executive search, simply contact us for a free 30-minute consultation for your organization.

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© 2017 The Moran Company, “We find great nonprofit executives.” We specialize in searches for nonprofit executive directors, directors of development/fundraising staff, and other top nonprofit leadership.