The Insider: Lisa Brown Morton, President & CEO of Nonprofit HR Solutions

This interview was conducted by Sandra C. Davis and was originally posted on the blog Black Gives Back.

Want to learn how to remain competitive in this tight job market?  Need nonprofit job search tips? Read on to learn all this and more from Lisa Brown Morton.

A true Insider uses their skill and/or knowledge to help uplift others. Lisa Brown Morton, President & CEO of Nonprofit HR Solutions, helps nonprofit organizations successfully recruit, employ, and manage their staff. With over 20 years of human resources experience for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations such as The Black Alliance for Educational Options, the American Diabetes Association, the American Association of Law Schools, Greenpeace and many others, Ms. Morton definitely knows the business of human resources. Lisa also founded the Nonprofit HR Solutions Scholarship Fund, dedicated to supporting limited-resourced nonprofit HR professionals and their organizations improve their human resources practices. Ms. Morton and her staff host the Nonprofit Human Resources Conference, the nation’s only human resources conference serving the needs of nonprofit human resource professionals. For more information about this year’s conference, visit here.

Why are you so passionate about nonprofit human resources?

Nonprofit organizations do absolutely phenomenal work! They serve those who many times would otherwise be overlooked. If I can help an organization strengthen its internal capacity so that it can better serve the community and those in need, then I think that’s a perfect match. HR serves as a key partner in making sure an organization can deliver on its mission. We often don’t look at HR that way but that’s its primary role – to make sure that the employee and management of an organization can work in an environment that is healthy, free of organizational barriers, and able to deliver on its stated purpose. I can’t think of any better work than that!

Helping nonprofits find and keep the best employees is your business, but would you also consider it philanthropy as well?

Not really. Human resources – when done well – is serious business that requires knowledge, skills and abilities that require honing and developing. Philanthropy is a different profession. I wouldn’t pretend to understand how it works. What I do know is that it is critical to the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization – just as HR is. That’s probably all that they share in common, though.

How should a nonprofit job seeker engage an organization before and after he/she submits a resume?

Before submitting a resume, a nonprofit job seeker should thoroughly research the organization. Know their mission, their work in the community, if they’ve won any awards or are recognized leaders in their areas of focus. This information should be incorporated in one’s cover letter. By doing so, one conveys that they know what the organization is about, who it serves and its impact on the community. Volunteering with the organization is another way of getting a better perspective on how the organization works. It is also beneficial in that it will provide invaluable “inside” information about how the organization works on a day-to-day basis. After submitting one’s resume, the job seeker should follow-up in writing and by phone, if necessary to convey interest in the position and the organization.

What are the top five skills/areas of expertise that nonprofit professionals should develop? What are the top five characteristics of successful nonprofit professionals?

That’s not a cut and dry question. The nonprofit sector is rich with diversity in the types of professional opportunities that are available. Whether your professional interest is in accounting and finance, counseling, marketing, or IT, you can find a job in the sector. Many people believe the myth that everyone working in the sector is working in a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen. That’s not at all the case. If you want to serve on the front lines, opportunities exist. But if you are also interested in serving on the “business” side of the sector, you can find a dynamic career there too. That being said, there are some characteristics that are commonly found in professionals attracted to working in the nonprofit sector. They often include: a strong sense of compassion, empathy for those who may be in need; a strong desire to serve others that may not result in personal profit; patience – nonprofit organizations frequently operate at a pace that is different than the for-profit sector; a willingness to work in environments that value collaboration and consensus-styled decision making, and; a willingness to work an environment that may be under-resourced (especially when compared with for-profit entities).

read more at Black Gives Back.

Sandra C. Davis is a  marketing communications professional and passionate arts/ community advocate. Sandra is also a graduate of the Arts & Business Council of Chicago On Board nonprofit board governance training program, and now serves as a New Arts Forum Member (Junior Board Member) for Urban Gateways.

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