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Three Reasons You Need to Hire for Purpose Alignment  

Nonprofits flourish when fueled by a team of passionate individuals united by a common purpose – purpose-driven individuals passionate about the organization’s mission can drive success and contribute to a strong, collaborative work environment. Recruiting the right leaders who align with organizational purpose is core to achieving short-term and long-term goals for both the employee and the organization. 

Here are three key reasons why you need to be hiring leaders who align with your organization’s purpose: 

1. Passion Drives Performance 

Selecting leaders whose values align with your nonprofit’s mission can profoundly impact performance. When employees genuinely believe in and feel a personal connection to the cause, their motivation, enthusiasm, and commitment soar. This passion translates into heightened productivity and superior results.  

Passionate employees are willing to go the extra mile to further the organization’s mission. And their energy and dedication are often infectious, inspiring co-workers to do the same. When you’re able to build a team motivated by a shared purpose, your nonprofit is better positioned to achieve its performance, fundraising, and reputation goals, magnifying the positive impact on those you serve. 

“Aligning purpose with talent is not just a hiring strategy; it’s the heartbeat of organizational success,” says Doug Trout, managing director at DRiWaterstone. “When your mission resonates with team members, they bring a passion that transforms work into a purposeful journey. At DRiWaterstone, we believe that hiring for purpose alignment isn’t just about filling positions; it’s about building a community of changemakers committed to a shared vision and driving impact.”   

2. Enhanced Employee Retention 

Nonprofit organizations often operate on limited budgets and resources, and high turnover rates can be a significant drain on these already tight resources. According to Forbes, it can cost up to 3-4 times the position salary to replace an employee. Hiring individuals aligned with your nonprofit’s purpose significantly enhances the likelihood of long-term retention.  

Reducing turnover means fewer recruitment and training costs, increased organizational stability, and a stronger and more experienced team. By hiring for purpose alignment, you’re investing in your nonprofit’s long-term success and sustainability—not just filling an immediate need. 

3. Amplifying Fundraising and Community Support

For nonprofits reliant on donations and community backing, a purpose-aligned team becomes a powerful asset. Genuine alignment with your mission makes connecting with potential donors and engaging the community around your mission easier. Team members who are passionate about your cause can authentically and convincingly communicate its importance – and how others can make an impact. 

Donors and supporters are more likely to engage with your cause when they see that your organization’s team members are passionate about and deeply committed to the mission. Donors and volunteers want to know that their contributions will make a real difference in the organization’s mission, and a purpose-aligned team can help provide that assurance and credibility. 

“Recruiting a leader or team member who has the skills and behaviors needed to succeed in the role is important, but for nonprofit or social impact organizations, it’s vital to take the time to explore a candidate’s connection to their purpose and mission,” says Trout. “Skills plus purpose alignment is a winning combination that helps set your candidate and your organization up for success.”  

Connecting Purpose and Mission-Driven Clients with Purpose and Mission-Driven Candidates. 

For over 25 years, we have been dedicated to matching mission and purpose-driven organizations with top purpose-driven candidates. Our team of experts has developed an extensive network and knowledge of the non-profit and social impact sectors, and we excel in helping our clients find the best possible talent to support their growth and performance goals.  

Let’s start a conversation—contact us today to talk to one of our dedicated team members. 

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In 2022, we did a search for Howard University, a private historically black research institution in Washington DC. Howard is one of the highest producers of black professionals in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, religion, social work, and education. In our 20-plus years of business, we have placed over 1,000 candidates, and it is great to reconnect with them. Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Amber Haywood, who we placed as Director of Development for the Schools of Divinity, Education, and Social Work at Howard University. One year after being placed, we learned more about the role, what projects she has enjoyed working on, and advice for candidates looking for their next executive position in today’s job market, among other key topics. 


DRiW: Talk about your role and what you're responsible for.  

AH: I serve as the Director of Development for the Schools of Divinity, Education, and Social Work, which means I serve as a frontline fundraiser for those schools and a strategic partner to the Deans of the respective schools. I'm responsible for stewarding and managing the individual giving portfolio and bolstering the institutional giving portfolio at the major gifts level.  

DRiW: What attracted you to the position and the University?  

AH: The position was uniquely aligned with my skill set and my background. I've spent most of my career in education, working on issues around educational equity. I've also straddled the development world, working for many social justice and racial equity causes at the grassroots level and in larger, more established nonprofit organizations. I also have a background as a community organizer and did a lot of work through my church around issues of homelessness, poverty, substance abuse, and a lot of issues that were plaguing low-income communities. The Director of Development for the Schools of Divinity, Education, and Social Work position was aligned with my interests. Howard also had a mission I wanted to contribute to. 

DRiW: What initiatives or projects have you worked on this past year that you've enjoyed?  

AH: One of my favorite things has been building the Case for Support for the schools. The largest school brought on a Director of Development; my schools were the smallest of three schools at the University. So, when I came on, there was a lot of foundational work to get them towards being a world-class development shop and to have all the resources and materials they needed to acquire funding. So, the Case for Support has been a really fun project. I took the history, the programs, and the mission, and then coupled that with the strategic plan and the vision of the schools I work with.  

I've enjoyed building out the Case for Support through predominantly text and visual cues. I’ve also worked on the corresponding one-pagers, and it's been nice to feel like I'm returning to my roots as a Head of Development, or back to when I was a Communications Director.  

Also, testing out our new Case for Support with potential funders and seeing the impact that has had has been great. It has been resonating with partners who may not consider becoming donors to the Schools of Divinity, Education, and Social Work. That's been a fun and fruitful project I've worked on.  

DRiW: Can you describe your experience working with the DRiWaterstone team?  

AH: It has been incredible. I have told everybody about it. Whenever a friend is looking for a job, especially in development, where at this level, the development process is long, I recommend reachingtout to the DRiWaterstone team. Even finding the role was because of the team. I applied for a different position and talked to the DRiWaterstone team. They said that position was too junior, and they had another role that they thought I would be uniquely aligned with and well positioned for. Such an intentionality was given to me as a candidate. They learned about who I was and matched me with an opportunity, and I don't think I could have found a better fit for myself on my own. It was an incredibly supportive process, and working with the team was great.  

DRiW: How was your experience with DRiWaterstone compared to other search firms you may have previously worked with?  

AH: With other firms, it felt like they were working on behalf of the organization, and it was more of them scheduling and coordinating things for me – here is where you need to be and when you need to be there - and that was the extent of the relationship. Working with DRiWaterstone was different, and it was really surprising. It was more of looking for fits from both sides and connecting people to the causes that resonate with them and the job opportunities aligned with their unique skills, talents, and passions.  

DRiW: What advice do you have for other nonprofit executive candidates in today's job market?  

AH: The advice would be to acknowledge, celebrate, and document your wins. It's so important to have examples of the impact that you've had. Add them to your LinkedIn, but also have them in your documents on your computer, because when you enter the job market, and you're trying to interview and tell those stories of impact, it's amazing how much memory can fail us when we're put on the spot and we're looking for a role. Another thing I would say is to leave gracefully. Many candidates stay in positions where they're feeling burnt out and don't feel supported or appreciated. I think leaving gracefully when you realize that there's no fit or a huge value misalignment is great because then you can leave on good terms. And these are people who would gladly give you references for other jobs. 


At DRiWaterstone, we have the pleasure of working with some of the best clients and candidates in the nonprofit and social impact space. To learn more about how we can help you build high-performance teams and drive growth, email us – we’d love to talk!  

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