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Using Artificial Intelligence to Acquire Executive Talent

Make no mistake Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used in nonprofit organizations daily and rapidly becoming a more powerful tool for two reasons. First, there is more data to process and analyze than ever before. Second, computing power has improved dramatically over the last two decades. Whether you realize it or not, it is a part of your daily life in how your streaming selections, real-time directions to your favorite restaurant, and purchasing selections with your favorite online store. However, when it comes to how this translates into nonprofit operations, we tend to be slow to adapt for fear of the belief that AI could replace humans in the workforce entirely.  AI is unlikely to ever replace:

  1. Building relationships with candidates
  2. Seeing candidate potential beyond credentials
  3. Judging “culture add” or “culture fit”
  4. Gauging candidates’ interpersonal skills
  5. Convincing candidates to accept offers

However, AI can have positive implications and a recent study shows that 89% of nonprofit professional believe AI can make their nonprofit more efficient. The question for most is how and in what areas. So, let’s start at the place where we are seeing the greatest need via the “great resignation” – succession planning and executive search.

Why Nonprofits Should Embrace AI as part of the Executive Search Process?

 The simple answer is – to reduce the time to hire. Building a real database with integrity that is rich with valuable data that anticipates hiring needs and trends is a game changer.  At Catalyst Consulting Services we see AI changing the executive search process in nonprofits in the following ways and continue to invest each year to ensure positive executive transitions for our clients:

  1. Ability to pipeline candidates based on hiring trends/succession data.If you are diligent about capturing your data, you should be able to anticipate hiring needs based on data you already have. For example, a CFO usually stays at their jobs for on average 3 years…what could you do with that information? You could use it for Business Development. Start a marketing campaign to the potential candidate with new CFO opportunities once they hit 2.5 years at their company. Alternatively, contact their hiring manager and market your services to them for a new search. Today, this is a manual process but that may change in the future.
  2.  Ability to predict/suggest most qualified fit.Today, database queries should show the most relevant candidates, but we see this process getting even easier and more accurate. For example, when it comes to healthcare nonprofits, what if you could aggregate and access candidates associated with research papers in health sciences libraries. Wouldn’t it be nice if the AI technology could push the most relevant scientists to the top of your long list based on what they have published, their relative rank on the paper, and how many times they are referenced throughout time?
  3. Ability to predict/suggest compensation data.How much is this position worth based on all the valuable data you currently have in addition to salary trends within the market? If you are persistent about tracking compensation data and deal package information, it will make it much easier to discourage hiring managers from setting low salaries for their candidates. This could drastically improve the time it takes going back and forth when it comes to salary negotiations.

Why Nonprofits Should Partner with an Executive Search Firm

Not every nonprofit wants to invest in AI when it comes to hiring area as they want to allocate their resources to mission implementation (and that should be the focus).  It also may not make the most sense for positions outside the C-Suite or executive team. By partnering with a firm that specializes in AI coupled with individuals who have quantifiable experience working in nonprofit can prove to be a mutually beneficial partnership. It allows the nonprofit to focus on what is does great, not good and stay mission focused.

Michelle Turman, MA, CFRE is the CEO of Catalyst Consulting Services whose mission is to facilitate positive change for nonprofits in the areas of executive searches, organizational management, and fundraising. With over thirty years of nonprofit experience, Turman has been responsible for increasing the impact and best practices of nonprofit organizations she serves and has raised over $87 million for the Tampa Bay community through her professional and personal philanthropic efforts. Turman is also the Chair of Knowledge & Thought Leadership Committee of the Network for Nonprofit Search Consultants (NNSC)