The Value of Talent Management Software for Nonprofits

October 06, 2011Alexis Denny

Nonprofits provide vital services and assistance to communities across the country and around the world, demonstrating remarkable success in meeting daily and diverse needs despite having limited resources.  The economic downturn has impacted funding for nonprofits, but these organizations are equally challenged – if not more so – by the ability to develop and retain the right people to help them achieve their missions.  Not only are these organizations grappling with the impending retirement of seasoned, high-level leaders, they are also increasingly competing with the private sector for talented people. 

Consider the following:

  • 640,000 nonprofit leadership and senior management positions will need to be filled in the next 10 years 1
  • 75 percent of nonprofit executives do not plan to be in their job five years from now 2
  • About 50 to 75 percent of nonprofit roles needing to be filled require traditional business skills – including HR 1

This talent issue becomes even more challenging when you take into account the lack of capacity or resources nonprofits have to give critical HR issues such as performance management, training and development, and leadership development the attention they deserve.  Research from Taproot Foundation shows that less than a fourth of nonprofits have one dedicated HR employee.  As a result, HR becomes more of an administrative vs. strategic process. 

Cornerstone recognizes the value that the right talent management strategy and technology support can have in helping nonprofits manage their people and increase their impact in the communities they serve.  This was the inspiration for the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation, which we launched in 2009 to offer the nonprofit sector our talent management software and services at special rates. 

The Foundation also selects a limited number of nonprofits to participate in the Strategic Partner program, providing our software and implementation services at no cost.  The Strategic Partner program now includes more than 25 nonprofits whose mission and activities align with the Foundation’s three areas of focus – education, workforce development and disaster relief. 

Jumpstart: Becoming an Employer of Choice

We’ll be talking with some of our nonprofit partners from time to time for the blog and sharing some insight into how they’re leveraging technology to address their talent issues.  The first of these is Jumpstart, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing early education to children from low-income neighborhoods. 

Since 1993, Jumpstart has been developing language and a literacy skills set in these children in an effort to close the educational achievement gap.  To achieve its goals, the organization has trained over 20,000 college students and community volunteers to reach out to 90,000-plus preschool children across the United States. 

In 2010, the Foundation selected Jumpstart as a donation recipient for the Cornerstone talent management solution.  We recently had the opportunity to chat with Kasi Cruz, Jumpstart’s Senior Director of Human Resources, to discuss Jumpstart’s partnership with the Foundation and what it means for them as a nonprofit organization. 

Tell us a little bit about Jumpstart.  How many employees and volunteers do you have?

Jumpstart is headquartered  in Boston, and we have seven regional offices in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Washington DC, as well as Boston (sharing space with our HQ).  We also have about 69 sites located at colleges and universities across the country. 

About 200 Jumpstart staff members work across these locations, managing nearly 4,000 volunteers who are serving 10,000 children this year.  In addition, we have an alumni program that engages thousands of volunteers who have served with Jumpstart since the organization was founded in 1993.

What is Jumpstart’s overall talent-management strategy?

Jumpstart’s overall strategy is simple – to recruit, develop, and retain the leaders and talent we need today and tomorrow in order to grow, serve more children, and achieve our mission.  We have four organizational priorities:

  • to achieve meaningful child and community impact;
  • to ensure a smart, efficient use of our time, resources and energy;
  • to generate sustainable revenue;
  • and to be an employer of choice. 

There are so many different things that go into being an employer of choice.  Developing a talent-management strategy that fits with -- and that is going to work for -- our organization is just one. 

This year, Jumpstart is broadening its approach to succession planning and management.  We plan to use the critical data and resources provided through the Cornerstone system to scan our entire network and identify staff with strong leadership potential in order to better target our investment in staff development and growth.  We also are in the process of building a leadership development program that will be managed and tracked through the Cornerstone system by our executive management team. 

In addition to our succession initiatives, we will are implementing two new management and development tools this year – Strengths Finder and Predictive Index – and are excited to explore how we can integrate such tools with Cornerstone.

What issues or business challenges were you looking to address through your relationship with the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation?

The biggest challenge that using Cornerstone’s software is going to help us address is inefficiency across detached HR processes.  We have a number of processes that drive talent management objectives, but much of what we do has been managed manually through Word documents and Excel spreadsheets.  This impacts organizational performance, as well as the data and information we need to make the best decisions.  It also results in the HR team spending too much time on tasks that don’t add value, such as piecing systems and data together to provide information and reports to the executive team.

What does Jumpstart’s relationship with the Foundation mean for you today, as well as tomorrow?

The Foundation chose us, and we have felt incredibly privileged and supported by the Cornerstone team since we began implementation.  This past May, my team and I got to hear Adam Miller speak at Cornerstone’s Convergence client and partner conference, where he also hosted a special luncheon for Foundation clients.  His push to create the Cornerstone Foundation is remarkable not only in its generosity and willingness to uniquely support community service, but also because it’s ultimately a smart and forward-thinking business decision.  The Foundation gives nonprofit organizations an opportunity to experience the value of Cornerstone’s software and services, as well as the impact it can have on their people, mission and bottom line.  It’s a helping hand that I believe builds brand loyalty and a client base for tomorrow that might not otherwise exist.

Implementation has been a great learning opportunity for Jumpstart, and we are excited by the possibilities Cornerstone holds for our staff, volunteer, and others working to transform education in America.  I see Jumpstart remaining a Cornerstone client for many years to come.

To read more about how nonprofits are benefiting from talent management software, check out our Cornerstone client success stories for Teach for America and Save the Children.  

1.  Bridgespan Group
2.  CompassPoint NonProfit Services / Meyer Foundation

About Alexis Denny

As Director of the Nonprofit Empowerment Program, Alexis Denny is responsible for building and supporting the foundation's global portfolio of capacity building services, including the HR Pro Bono Corps and Gift of Learning.

Previously, Alexis worked in... more


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