How Nonprofits can Work with Freelancers in 2024

A special guest post by Emma Miller to help you work more effectively with freelancers so you can manage and grow your nonprofit, NGO or Social Enterprise.

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As your nonprofit grows, you have a lot to be happy about.

However, this also means more work and you will probably have to hire more people. For nonprofits with limited budgets, working with freelancers seems like a logical option.

Still, managing freelancers is not the same as managing your full-stack employees.

You need to be familiar with the most common problems that occur when hiring remote workers and be prepared to solve them on time.

Use Freelancing Sites

One of the major problems nonprofits face when looking for freelancers is finding a person whose goals and experience fit their mission. This is why you need to cast your net wide and one of the most effective places to start your search are freelance sites like:

  • Upwork is one of the widest freelance platforms, ideal for both your long-term and short-term projects.
  • Freelancer is one of the most popular freelance platforms out there. You can post a project and get the bids from freelancers directly or even organize a competition for them.
  • 99designs is a platform for freelance designers. Similarly to Freelancer, it allows you to organize contests.
  • Freelance Writing Gigs is an awesome option for every nonprofit that wants to position themselves as an authoritative source of information. Here, you can find content writers and strategists that will create HQ content for you, from articles to infographics.
  • Lensa is another great hiring platform. You can find people for every job role on this recruitment website. It has a wide pool of candidates belonging to various industries like design, education, healthcare, engineering etc. You can easily post job listings and hire the right candidate for your company. To get a better idea, you can refer to this job listing on Lensa.
  • College Recruiter is a site for college students looking for various freelance careers.

These platforms allow you to browse through the freelancers’ profile, see how much they charge and check whether they have already worked with nonprofits similar to yours.

These platforms can help you find freelancers in various niches, from virtual assistants to accounting. Still, they’re particularly significant to organizations looking to build a nonprofit marketing strategy. They help you find and hire experienced copywriters, content strategists, SEO experts, and web developers that will help you build a recognizable online identity, spread the word about your visions and mission, and position yourself as a leader.

Pro tip: There are also numerous nonprofit job platforms like, Philanthropy Journal’s Job Board, or Chronicle of Philanthropy you should also check out.

Agree on the Frequency of Communication

Today, many employers believe that, with sophisticated tech solutions, we don’t have to take a candidate’s physical location into consideration when hiring them. However, this doesn’t have to be so.

Let’s take an example of different time zones. Unless a freelancer agrees to work on your time (and they probably won’t), time difference could become a major communication issue. What would you do if your website is down and your freelance developer is 10 hours ahead? The chances that they would answer your email or call are extremely low.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hire freelancers from other countries. You just need to talk to them and come to a clear understanding when and how your communication will take place. Ask them openly when you can reach out to them and through which channels. Also agree on the acceptable delay in answering emails, be it 6 hours, 12 hours, or 24 hours.

Choose the Right Mode of Communication

With the rise of IM tools and collaboration platforms, communicating in real-time with your employees has never been simpler, irrespective of their location and time zones.

But, as the number of these tools is constantly rising, you need to choose the most effective communication channels that will work for you and a freelancer.

  • Project management tools like Trello, Basecamp, or Asana are always a great way to manage multiple projects and people simultaneously. Trello and Asana have free plans, which is an awesome money saver for your nonprofit.
  • Slack has multiple options like group chats, direct messaging, desktop notifications, and searchable archives. It is a great option that will boost both your team’s productivity and collaboration.
  • Skype and Google Hangouts are great when you’re in need of face-to-face communication with a freelancer. This way, you can work through some complex ideas and problems in a more efficient way.

Communicate Your Goals and Expectations Clearly

Before hiring a freelancer, make sure you set clear goals. You need to first think about their duties and responsibilities in order to communicate your expectations to them. Just like your full-stack employees, nonprofit freelancers need to know what is expected of them and where they stand. To avoid unpleasant surprises a day before the deadline, ask them whether they agree with the rules and whether they will be able to meet them professionally.

Finally, Monitor and Revise as Needed

Just because you’ve found a freelancer that meets your nonprofit’s standards doesn’t mean you can kick back and relax. On the contrary, you should monitor their progress regularly and check in with them to see whether the goals you’ve set still work. And, as your project changes over time, you should make certain adjustments and keep a freelancer informed about them.

Hope this helps!


How Can Nonprofits Benefit from Working with Freelancers?

Nonprofits can benefit from the specialized skills, flexibility, and potentially lower costs of working with freelancers, allowing them to undertake projects without hiring full-time staff.

What Types of Projects Are Suitable for Nonprofits to Outsource to Freelancers?

Suitable projects include website development, graphic design, content writing, social media management, fundraising consulting, and other tasks that require specific expertise.

How Should Nonprofits Identify and Select the Right Freelancers?

Identify freelancers through recommendations, freelance platforms, or professional networks, and select based on their experience, portfolio, understanding of the nonprofit sector, and alignment with the organization’s values.

What Are Best Practices for Nonprofits When Communicating with Freelancers?

Best practices include clear and regular communication, setting clear expectations, providing detailed briefs, and maintaining open lines for feedback and revisions.

How Can Nonprofits Ensure Quality Work from Freelancers?

Ensure quality by thoroughly vetting freelancers, setting clear deliverables, agreeing on benchmarks, and establishing a review and feedback process.

What Are the Legal Considerations for Nonprofits When Hiring Freelancers?

Legal considerations include understanding tax implications, ensuring compliance with labor laws, and drafting clear contracts that outline scope of work, payment terms, and confidentiality agreements.

How Should Nonprofits Handle Payment and Invoicing with Freelancers?

Handle payments by agreeing on clear terms upfront, setting milestones for payment (if applicable), and processing invoices promptly as agreed in the contract.

Can Nonprofits Engage Freelancers for Long-Term or Recurring Projects?

Yes, nonprofits can engage freelancers for long-term collaborations if their work quality and reliability are proven, and if there’s a recurring need for their expertise.

What Is the Role of Feedback in Working with Freelancers?

Feedback helps freelancers understand your expectations and improve their work; constructive feedback is essential for achieving the desired outcomes and fostering a positive working relationship.

How Can Nonprofits Protect Their Intellectual Property When Working with Freelancers?

Protect intellectual property by including clauses in the contract that specify the ownership of the work created by freelancers for the nonprofit.

How Can Nonprofits Effectively Onboard Freelancers for Specific Projects?

Onboarding can be effective by providing detailed briefs, background information on the nonprofit’s mission, and clear communication about the project’s goals and timelines.

What Are the Keys to Building Successful Long-Term Relationships with Freelancers?

Building successful relationships involves consistent communication, providing timely feedback, recognizing and valuing the freelancer’s contributions, and maintaining a professional yet cordial working rapport.

How Can Nonprofits Ensure Confidentiality and Data Security When Working with Freelancers?

Ensure confidentiality and security by having freelancers sign non-disclosure agreements and ensuring they follow data protection protocols, especially when handling sensitive information.

What Strategies Can Nonprofits Use to Manage Multiple Freelancers Effectively?

Managing multiple freelancers can be achieved by using project management tools, having a central point of contact for coordination, and setting clear roles and responsibilities for each freelancer.

How Do Nonprofits Determine Fair Market Rates for Freelancer Services?

Determine fair market rates by researching industry standards, considering the freelancer’s experience and expertise, and balancing it with the nonprofit’s budget constraints.

Can Nonprofits Negotiate Rates or Barter Services with Freelancers?

While negotiation is common, it should be fair and respectful of the freelancer’s value. Bartering services can be an option, provided it offers mutual benefits.

What Are the Best Platforms or Channels to Find Qualified Freelancers for Nonprofits?

Platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, or industry-specific networks, as well as referrals from other nonprofits or professional networks, are effective in finding qualified freelancers.

How Can Nonprofits Measure and Review a Freelancer’s Performance?

Measure performance based on the quality of work delivered, adherence to deadlines, communication effectiveness, and the freelancer’s ability to work within the nonprofit’s guidelines and ethos.

What Should Be Included in a Contract When a Nonprofit Hires a Freelancer?

Contracts should include scope of work, deadlines, payment terms, confidentiality clauses, rights to the work produced, and any other specific terms relevant to the project.

How Can Nonprofits Address Challenges or Disagreements with Freelancers?

Address challenges by having open and honest communication, providing clear feedback, and trying to find a mutually agreeable solution. If necessary, refer to the contract terms for resolution.

How Can Nonprofits Ensure Clear Expectations Are Set with Freelancers?

Clear expectations can be ensured by providing detailed project briefs, setting measurable goals, and having a mutual understanding of the project’s scope and deliverables.

What Are the Benefits of Using Freelance Grant Writers for Nonprofits?

Freelance grant writers bring specialized expertise in crafting compelling grant proposals, which can increase the chances of securing funding for the nonprofit.

How Can Nonprofits Manage Confidential Information When Working with Freelancers?

Managing confidential information involves ensuring freelancers understand the importance of confidentiality, using secure communication channels, and limiting access to sensitive data.

What Is the Role of Feedback in Maintaining Quality Work from Freelancers?

Regular feedback helps freelancers align their work more closely with the nonprofit’s needs and standards, ensuring continuous improvement and quality in deliverables.

How Do Nonprofits Handle Project Deadlines and Timelines with Freelancers?

Handle deadlines by clearly communicating timelines at the project’s start, monitoring progress regularly, and allowing room for adjustments as necessary.

Can Nonprofits Rely on Freelancers for Critical or Core Functions?

While freelancers can be valuable for specific tasks or projects, it’s generally advisable for nonprofits to rely on internal staff or long-term partners for critical or core functions.

How Can Nonprofits Assess the ROI of Hiring Freelancers?

ROI can be assessed by evaluating the quality of work, its impact on the nonprofit’s goals, cost savings compared to full-time staff, and any increase in capacity or capabilities.

What Strategies Can Nonprofits Use to Integrate Freelancers into Their Teams?

Integrate freelancers by involving them in relevant team meetings, fostering open communication with internal staff, and providing context about the nonprofit’s culture and working style.

How Can Nonprofits Address Language or Cultural Differences When Working with International Freelancers?

Address these differences by being aware and respectful of cultural nuances, considering time zone differences for communication, and possibly using translation services if needed.

What Is the Best Way to End a Working Relationship with a Freelancer If Necessary?

End relationships professionally and respectfully, providing clear reasons if applicable, fulfilling any contractual obligations, and leaving the door open for potential future collaboration.

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