Nonprofit Resources


Aligning Your People Strategy with your Organization Strategy = Results

Who Are You, as an Organization?

By Donna Bernardi Paul, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

This article originally appeared in BDO USA, LLP’s “Nonprofit Standard” newsletter (Summer 2017). Copyright © 2017 BDO USA, LLP. All rights reserved.


Knowing who you are as an organization is paramount. What is your culture? What is your philosophy? What do you stand for? Why do your members, contributors, or users of your services choose your organization over another? What is it about your people that they like?

Aligning your Human Resource (HR) strategy with your business/operational strategy is key. See the article entitled, “Rising to the Challenge of Nonprofit Recruiting” that discusses this topic in the Spring 2016 issue of the Nonprofit Standard.

Knowing how to find the right people and get them to want to work for you and stay is the secret to a competitive advantage and includes the following:

Hiring the right people

Knowing what you want the individual to DO before you begin your search and determining if they fit within your culture is the formula for performance.

Performance = competence x energy2

Competence: Do they have the skills to do the job?

Energy: Do they have the traits necessary to fit with the culture (e.g., self-motivation, customer service, work ethic, sense of urgency, ability to get along with others, etc.)

Surround yourself with self-motivated people who care and keep them motivated. If you do not hire self-motivated people, you will never be able to motivate them without the carrot and stick approach.

Training and Development

Once you spend time and money hiring the right people, make sure that they have the training, development, tools and resources they need to be as productive as possible as quickly as possible.


Employees want good leaders/bosses. Ensure that anyone who is responsible for managing others has been trained and is good at it. Resist the urge to promote people into positions where they are leaders/bosses if they are not good at these types of roles. You will lose employees because people join organizations but they quit leaders/bosses.

Career Development

Employees want growth and established career paths. If they cannot grow within your organization, they will leave in order to grow somewhere else. Do not spend resources training people only to lose them to another employer who will reap the advantages of your hard work.

Rewards & Recognition

Employees want to be recognized for their accomplishments and contributions. Do not punish good performers by giving them more work or reward poor performers by taking work away, continuing to give them raises and bonuses and allowing them to stay with you. It is demotivating for your good performers. Employees want to be part of the team. They want their ideas taken into consideration. They want to feel valued.

In the end, your organization’s people strategy should align with the organization’s overall strategy, including the organization’s culture. Ideally, every people-related initiative should result in something that your members, contributors and users of your services value. A consultative and strategic HR approach can provide insights as well as subject matter expertise to help organizations leverage their employees to achieve the organization’s goals and stay competitive.

For more information, contact Donna Bernardi Paul, senior director, Business Services & Outsourcing, at [email protected], or email CapinCrouse at [email protected].

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