4 tips for NGOs and nonprofits hiring internationally

March 30, 2022

Nonprofits hiring internationally

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofit organizations (NPOs) face unique hurdles when hiring international employees.  

Working internationally in any capacity, no matter the organization type, means complying with local employment laws, customs, tax codes, employment classifications and more. But compared to private companies, managing a global workforce is even more complicated for NGOs and NPOs, who must also carry out their mission in complex or difficult environments, in times of crisis, or while navigating language and cultural barriers.  

But there are ways to make hiring and managing international employees easier for NGOs and NPOs, which can help you carry out your mission more effectively. Here are the most important ones to consider when hiring employees abroad or managing your international staff:  

1. Widen your talent pool 

Finding skilled and dedicated employees can be a challenge for any organization, but NGOs and nonprofits hiring internationally have the additional task of finding qualified personnel who can, for example, relocate to the country and fulfill the length of the contract, however long (or short) that may be.  

NGOs and NPOs that tap into the global talent pool for open positions prime themselves for even greater success, whether the candidates are local to the country the NGO is from, local to the country the NGO will operate in, or even located in a completely different country.

Having an HR infrastructure that can manage employees worldwide enables the right candidates to be hired regardless of where they are located and ensures that new employees can be onboarded and paid seamlessly. 

2. Correctly classify employees

After recruiting and hiring the right candidates, NGOs and NPOs can save themselves many headaches by ensuring employees are always classified correctly and in accordance with the labor laws of the country of operation.

Misclassification of employees—whether they’re volunteers or independent contractors who transition to become employees, candidates who apply from a job site, or candidates sourced from a professional recruiting firm—can be complex, time-intensive and costly to correct, and take away from an NGO’s or NPO’s ability to focus on its mission or to use precious funding on more important things than fines.

Additionally, the experience of getting misclassification corrected may decrease staff morale, which could contribute to avoidable employee turnover.

Learn more: NGOs and independent contractors: How to protect your mission from the costly risk of noncompliance

3. Stay compliant

Many NGOs and international NPOs think that a business entity must be set up in order to work in another country, hire and onboard staff, process payroll, and comply with local labor laws.

However, setting up an entity can complicate your global workforce management process because: 

  • They can be complex, requiring location(s), licenses, bank accounts, business-level translators, etc. 

  • They can take several months to set up. 

  • They are not nimble. For example, if your organization needs to work in a country for a limited or fixed term, you probably don’t want to waste several months setting up a legal entity that will only be needed for a short time.  

  • They can be expensive and a budget strain.

Despite these hurdles, some NGOs and NPOs may elect to set up a business entity in the countries they operate in. But in cases where that is not feasible, the need for the work is urgent, or the process of setting up an entity is too complex or time-consuming, a ready-made and adaptable HR solution allows organizations to easily scale up or down their workforce based on the project, timeline, scope and funding. 

4. Support your staff 

The adage “time is money” seems especially true for many NGOs and NPOs, who sometimes feel short on both. So every second spent inefficiently on redundancies or correcting preventable problems is time spent away from the mission, as well as the staff that bring the mission to life.  

In NGO and NPO work, staff may be grappling with physical and emotional considerations such as stretched-thin resources, the emotional toll of the work, a different standard of living, low pay or pay limits, or even instability in the country or safety concerns.

Having efficient HR systems in place helps NGOs and NPOs easily manage and scale a global workforce, which leaves ample time to provide support and attention to staff.

The right HR partner for NGOs and nonprofits hiring internationally

An employer of record (EOR) solution helps NGOs and NPOs save time and money, remain compliant, and get up and running in a new country in as little as two weeks. An experienced partner becomes an extension of your organization’s HR team, efficiently and compliantly managing HR tasks such as payroll, benefits, work permits, taxes, employment agreements, terminations and more.

Global Employment Outsourcing (GEO), the EOR solution from Safeguard Global, helps nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations hire employees in 165-plus countries by:

  1. Providing an easy system to hire, onboard and pay new employees (even if they’re located in a different country from the one the NGO or NPO operates in)  

  1. Allowing NGOs or NPOs to begin working in a country quickly and compliantly without having to set up a business entity first 

  1. Keeping NGOs or NPOs compliant with local laws 

  1. Being an HR partner that saves NGOs and NPOs time and resources, freeing them up to focus on their mission and taking care of staff

Learn more about hiring international workers: Check out our Global Employment Guide for NGOs

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