The Benefits of a Purpose-led Approach to Recruitment

Livingston James Director of Public and Not for Profit, Douglas Adam, discusses the important part that Purpose and Strategic Recruitment play in talent attraction and retention for charities.

Having attended the ACOSVO Members’ Day last week and engaged with a diverse range of leaders working across both community and national based organisations, there was a consistent message that the recruitment and retention of talent was a major challenge faced by voluntary sector organisations across Scotland. Given the well-publicised ‘war for talent’, how can charities successfully compete in a candidate led market to attract and retain talented individuals who are essential to achieving their overall mission, especially when salaries are unfortunately not always competitive.

Purpose is the driving force behind every charity’s existence. It defines their mission, shapes their goals, and influences their strategies. Articulating a compelling purpose, and demonstrating their impact, is front and centre when charities prepare funding bids. So, why should their approach to recruitment be any different?

When people resonate with an organisation’s purpose, they become more motivated, engaged, and dedicated to the cause. Charities should clearly communicate their purpose in their recruitment efforts; emphasising the impact they aim to create, the lives they intend to improve, and the social or environmental changes they aspire to bring about. By doing so, charities can attract individuals who share their passion and are eager to contribute their skills and expertise to achieve the organisation’s mission.



Recruitment is a critical process for charities to identify and select individuals who possess the right skills, experience and values. When undertaking a recruitment process, charities need to look beyond merely filling the role, placing greater focus on identifying individuals who align with the organisation’s purpose and are passionate about the cause they serve.

For any recruitment process, there are a number of key considerations:

a. Aligning Values: Charities should define their core values and ensure that they align with the values of potential recruits. Sharing common values creates a sense of unity and promotes a collaborative and harmonious work environment.

b. Skills and Expertise: While shared purpose is crucial, charities also need individuals with the right skills and expertise to carry out their work effectively. Identifying the specific skills required for each role and assessing candidates based on their qualifications ensures that the organisation has a competent and capable team.

c. Diversity and Inclusion: Embracing diversity and inclusion in recruitment is essential for charities to broaden their perspectives, accessing a wider pool of talent and strengthening their impact. By actively seeking candidates from diverse backgrounds, charities can foster innovation, creativity and a more comprehensive understanding of the issues they address.


Retaining Talent

Once charities have attracted skilled individuals who align with their purpose, it is equally important to retain them. Retention strategies should focus on providing a nurturing and supportive environment that enables personal and professional growth. Some example retention methods include:

a. Engaging Work Culture: Creating an engaging work culture involves fostering open communication, recognising and appreciating contributions, and providing opportunities for skill development. When employees feel valued, empowered, and connected to the organisation’s purpose, they are more likely to stay committed in the long term.

b. Career Progression: Charities should look to offer clear career paths and growth opportunities to their employees, wherever possible. By providing training, mentorship programs and opportunities for advancement, organisations can inspire loyalty and motivate individuals to invest their skills and talents in achieving the organisation’s goals.

c. Employee Wellbeing & Work-Life Balance: Recognising the importance of work-life balance is crucial for employee wellbeing and satisfaction. Charities should promote flexible working arrangements and support mechanisms that enable employees to manage their personal and professional responsibilities effectively.



To conclude, the role that both purpose and recruitment play in charities cannot be overstated. A clearly defined purpose attracts individuals who are passionate about the cause, while adopting a more strategic approach to recruitment ensures that the organisation has the right skills and aligned values in its team. By focusing on communicating their purpose and enhancing their recruitment processes, charities can build a strong foundation for success, improve talent retention, and maximise their impact on creating positive change in society.


At Livingston James Group, our purpose is to support our clients and candidates to realise their potential. If you are looking for recruitment support for your organisation, or you are looking for a career move yourself, please reach out to [email protected] for a confidential discussion.

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