Wearing Lots of Hats? Maybe It’s Time to Outsource


Nonprofit employees tend to wear many hats, covering a range of administrative tasks to preserve precious budget dollars for mission and program work. When the hats fit, it can work out very well for everyone. When they don’t, it can demoralize staff and reduce your organization’s effectiveness. Joe Geiger, President and CEO of First Nonprofit Foundation, discusses some common errors nonprofits make when staffing for administrative duties, and when it makes sense to outsource instead.

Hiring full-time administrative staff for part-time work.

The most common staffing error nonprofits make is hiring a full-time administrator for part-time work and then filling their schedules with other administrative tasks. “Bookkeeping is an area where this happens a lot,” Joe says. “Sometimes in a small to mid-sized nonprofit there isn’t enough work to keep a bookkeeper busy full-time, so they’ll have that person do other tasks the person doesn’t really enjoy doing.” The result can be counterproductive.

“I worked in a nonprofit once where we shared space and equipment among five nonprofits,” Joe says. “One of the nonprofits had a bookkeeper who worked about half a day each week on their bookkeeping. The rest of the time she was working on their newsletter and conference preparation. But that wasn’t what she was hired to do, and she hated it.” The organizations worked out an arrangement to have her handle bookkeeping for all five nonprofits instead. “She was very happy because she was doing what she liked,” Joe says. “Sharing staff isn’t always a viable option, but it illustrates the value of hiring people to do the work they’re trained to do.”

Assuming that employees cost less than vendors.

“Sometimes smaller organizations will get sticker shock when they talk to a contractor,” Joe says. “But when you factor in compensation, benefits, taxes and other expenses of full-time staff, it is often a better deal to outsource. When you hire an outside firm, you can get a high-level expert for a fraction of the cost of hiring a staff person with that talent.”

Interested in reading more? Check out the original article at First Nonprofit Foundation.

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