Non-profit challenge of hiring IT professionals

May 8, 2024
Access Tech: Non-profit challenges in hiring IT professionals.

Recently, I had a conversation with Pamela Pennington, the IT Director at local non-profit Ride Connection (RC). Pamela moved to Portland from Phoenix to take on the role at RC. We typically think of digital transformation being new, but Pamela has been innovating with technology and improving operational efficiencies for over 2 decades. Through her experience, she learned of the non-profit challenges of hiring IT profressionals.  

Access Tech: Pamela Pennington, IT Director of Ride Connection

Courtesy: Pamela Pennington

In her first 8 years as a systems analyst at the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Pamela developed several custom first-of-a-kind applications. Then, as the IT Manager at the City of Tuscon, Arizona Department of Economic Security, she managed a team of 18 IT staff and software developers. Her biggest accomplishment was to remove silos within three disparate departments and consolidate into creating more cohesive outcomes and dramatically reducing costs to the organization.  

After almost 6 years as a software development manager for Southwest Human Development, she landed in Portland and Ride Connection. She shared with me that she has always been drawn to the mission of non-profits, and after her first two positions, she recognized the unique challenges that non-profits face.  

I was especially interested in the challenges that she faces in getting and keeping good technical talent. She laughed when saying that it is not easy and is always part of her job. She explained that positions that require advanced skills are already experiencing a shortage in the labor market. Along with that, most non-profits pay 30% less than private enterprises. 

Finding people, like herself, that feel a higher calling is key. It is important for the culture as well as filling a seat. Getting candidates early in their careers can also be an opportunity that comes with some extra work in training for tech and sometimes just the basics of working in a team environment. She is a “hands off manager” that readily admits, in fact, leans into the idea that she does not and cannot know everything. She welcomes new ideas and different approaches. Her staff can build something new and be creative, and that can be a strong attraction for IT professionals.  What she has learned about her long journey at non-profit organizations is that there will always be work for her because non-profits are always needed. That is a win for her and a huge win for the organizations that benefit from her dedication! 

Access Tech applauds the work that nonprofits are doing, and we want to help them make a difference. We are an organization of dedicated IT professionals who have been managing IT for small organizations for over a decade. We want to be part of the positive change! Contact us at Access Tech for a complimentary 15-minute meeting.

Disclaimer: This blog is based on the President of Access Tech, Trey Lackey’s, personal accounts and opinions.    

For more insights on this topic: