Top 10 leadership recruitment resources

Charity leadership is changing. Those managing in the voluntary sector need an increasingly broad range of skills, which makes appointing talented leaders vital to the smooth running and dynamism of charities.

A firm grasp of embedding digital capabilities across service delivery, fundraising and day-to-day working practices is particularly needed.

However, many charity leaders lack, or need to improve on, the digital skills needed to ensure their organisation can adapt to challenges, such as the Covid-19 crisis.

A commitment to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion is another vital skill required. This is to ensure that charities and charity sector bodies are not just paying lip service to tackling issues of racism and sexism. Strong leadership can drive meaningful change.

But according to recent evidence, aspiring charity sector CEOs with disabilities and from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities are too often being overlooked.

In addition, a report published by ACEVO earlier this year found that disability inclusion within charities is “aspired to but rarely delivered. One charity leader interviewed said that senior staff with disabilities are “typecast” and overlooked for top level roles outside of the disability sector.

Ensuring staff, beneficiaries and volunteers are safe is another crucial skill for charity leaders. Too often scandals are emerging around poor safeguarding and complaints handling practices in the charity sector.

Working under pressure, taking tough decisions and managing and engaging with teams and communities are among the other important skills the modern charity leader needs.

When looking for help finding the right boss it can pay to look outside of the charity sector. Instead of only looking within their own sector, charities can learn from other industries and how they are led.

Here we outline some of the best resources available to help charities recruit their leaders.

Inclusive boards

Recruitment agency Inclusive Boards specialises in promoting diversity and inclusion at governance level, across charity boards as well as executive roles.

Support includes an ‘executive leadership programme’ to encourage diversity in senior management. This includes one-to-one coaching, training days and online learning.

Its research found that men continue to dominate senior roles across the tech sector and FTSE 350 firms.

The longlists of candidates it provides for executive roles are 60% female and at least 20% BAME.

Show the Salary

A useful resource for charities looking for a new leader is the Show the Salary recruitment campaign, to promote equity, inclusion and diversity in the voluntary sector.

It’s premise is simple – to encourage recruitment agencies and charities to always #showthesalary when advertising roles. It warns that salary secrecy can fuel wage gaps and discriminate, with women and BAME candidates particularly impacted.

More than 250 charities and recruiters have already signed up to the campaign’s pledges.

Resources include advice on showing the salary, stopping asking for previous salary and “unnecessary degrees”.

Non Graduates Welcome

We’ve already specified the breadth of skills the modern charity leader needs. It’s a vast list and is often not based on the candidates education background, including their degree.

By opening up recruitment of charity leaders to non-graduates charities can harness the skills and talents of a far greater pool of candidates.

This is the message of the #NonGraduatesWelcome campaign, to highlight how organisations are “slamming the doot in the faces of talented fundraisers simply because – for whatever reason – they didn’t go to university”.

It’s resources include links to a range of reports looking at how recruitment can be more more accessible and open.

The Other Box

Training, consultancy and brand partnerships company The Other Box includes a Jobs Board section, TobJobs. This has a focus on promoting anti-racist recruitment through promoting inclusive communications and tackling unconscious bias.

Senior jobs advertised cover a range of sectors, including publishing, digital and creative roles as well as charities.


TPP is a charity sector specialist agency that also recruits for roles across a number of sectors, also including education, health, social care, professional organisations, housing and culture.

It also stresses its commitment to diversity and inclusion and has signed the Show the Salary pledge. It has also developed an equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion policy as well as an action plan.

Public Leaders Appointments

Another agency to sign the Show the Salary pledge is recruiters Public Leaders Appointments, which helps charities find chief executives, executive directors and chairs.

It says: “In all of the searches that we deliver - irrespective of the role, organisation or sector - we ensure that our search activity encourages interest from a diverse range of candidates and we have secured appointments that have ensured diverse representation across senior leadership teams and boards.”

Peridot Partners

Peridot specialises in recruiting executives across a range of sectors, including charities, education, government departments and professional bodies.

Promoting diversity is among its focus when recruiting charity leaders and resources include a top tips video from its director of not-for-profit Philippa Fabry for those looking for their first third sector chief executive role.

Odgers Berndtson

Another recruitment agency to specialise in recruiting leaders across a range of sectors is Odgers Berndtson.

This includes searching for leaders across the not for profit sector, as well as healthcare, consumer organisations, business services, technology and financial services.

This recruitment agency specifies the need for chief executives to have strong technical and strategy skills across technology, regulatory frameworks as well as to look for economic opportunities.

“These skills must be combined with the ability to engage and inspire stakeholders at all levels across the business: from board members and a culturally diverse workforce to consumers and the media,” it says.

Charity Careers Scotland

Charity Careers Scotland is an online portal for charities to recruit leaders and other roles. Its resources include advice on salary questions, preparing for an interview and advice on preparing a great job description.

Advice is focused for both candidates as well as charities looking to fill roles.

Charity Commission

Talented leaders across a range of sectors looking to make the move to a charity chief executive role are advised to access the Charity Commission’s range of resources on charity management.

This covers issues such as risk management and safeguarding, as well as financial reporting and the roles of trustees and staff, as well as information on land, property and assets.

Manging conflicts of interest and holding meetings are other areas covered.

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