Tracy Madgwick

Nov 29, 2019, 3:42 PM

How to overcome the recruitment challenge for faith-based organisations

Good directors are hard to find in any circumstances, but for a Christian charity that requires candidates to be practising Christians who accept the organisation’s faith statement, the field is narrowed drastically. This can make the challenge of recruitment seem an insurmountable task; however, with the right contacts and understanding of the Christian perspective, good candidates can be found.

This is an area in which Action Planning can really help to remove the obstacles to change. Among our Consultants are a number of practising Christians, myself included, with extensive experience of recruiting for faith organisations. In addition to this knowledge, our connections can be a valuable source of candidate referrals.

A case in point is Pilgrims’ Friend Society (PFS), a family of Christian charities that work to enable older people to flourish. Having previously provided recruitment and salary benchmarking services to PFS, including the recruitment of current CEO Stephen Hammersley and one of the Trustees, Action Planning was asked to help recruit a Director of Marketing and Communications.

By its own admission, PFS has quite a conservative basis of faith, which means it fishes in an even smaller pool than other Christian charities. That said, care for the elderly is one area in which the state regulatory regime is set up to encourage spiritual care, so there were distinct benefits in this opportunity for Christians and it was important to convey this message.

Working with fellow Consultant Hayley McDonald, we drew on Action Planning’s recruitment resources, including our network of contacts, our job board and our experience of recruiting in this sector, as well as posting targeted ads on LinkedIn, and succeeded in attracting eight applications.

That may not sound like a lot; it’s about a third of what might be expected for a similar role in a non-Christian charity; but those eight applicants represented a strong cohort of well-matched candidates, which carried through to a strong appointment.

Our service to PFS included drawing up a shortlist from those eight applicant, conducting first interviews and supporting the recruitment panel at final interview. I also managed the negotiations with the successful candidate, Alexandra Davis, and took up references.

The overall message is that, while the pool of candidates for faith-base charities is relatively small, it is still possible to find good candidates with a passion for your mission. You might have to look a bit harder, but when you know where to look and you go in armed with a strong proposition, the results can be very rewarding.

I’ll leave you with Stephen Hammersley’s comments on the recruitment of Alexandra.

“While we think it’s God’s calling for us to have Bible believing people in post, that is not inconsistent with going about the recruitment process really professionally. That’s where Action Planning come in. They also understand where we’re coming from, which means that, as well as screening out unsuitable candidates, they can screen in people who they know have the same perspective as us. Alexandra is someone who absolutely understands the market we’re talking to and the Biblical basis to our mission.”

Tracy Madgwick

Tracy is a seasoned HR professional who has held a number of senior HR roles in well-known charities. She currently provides HR support to smaller charities who have no in-house support as well as providing additional capacity for existing HR teams in larger organisations.


We’d be very happy to talk you through what we can do to enhance your recruitment process. Call Action Planning