Top 9 Executive Recruitment Firms for Nonprofit Leaders in Canada

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Nonprofits and other organizations in the social purpose sector know that the success of their mission rises and falls with solid leadership and that the wrong hire at the C-level can be very costly on many levels. That’s why many nonprofit organizations turn to executive recruiting firms to help provide them with the best talent.

It’s essential to avoid the mistakes that lead to hiring the wrong senior leader. But it’s equally important to choose the right firm for your leadership needs.

Here’s what differentiates the top executive recruitment firms in the nonprofit or social purpose sector.

1. CrawfordConnect 

For twenty years, CrawfordConnect has worked in the nonprofit sector as one of the top executive hiring firms.  Their mission is “to strengthen Canadian charities and nonprofits by connecting them to highly qualified, talented individuals who want to make a difference.” Their work includes executive, talent, and board recruitment searches, interim management, and succession planning.

They work primarily with clients in healthcare, education and social services, but they also have a database for job seekers. In addition, they produce webinars and other resources on a wide variety of topics related to human resources. Their senior leaders have led nonprofits themselves. They operate from their main office in Toronto.

2. Four Corners Group

Founded in 2007 and based in Toronto, Four Corners Group is one of the best executive search firms working in various sectors, from real estate to technology. In addition, one of their partners has experience in the nonprofit sector. They are the sole Canadian member of InterSearch, a global network of the top executive search firms.

Their mission derives from the four corners of their name, which represent knowledge, commitment, collaboration and integrity. They offer executive and middle management searches, consulting, coaching, candidates’ competency assessment, and succession planning.

3. Cause Leadership

Founded in 1982, Cause Leadership is based in Toronto. It has as its mission “helping purpose-driven organizations find uniquely qualified leaders through our systematic, fully managed hiring process that ends with you bringing the best-qualified leader into your organization.”

Among its competitive advantages, Cause Leadership offers a flat-fee recruiting C-level candidates for Canadian nonprofits and charities. This flat-fee approach means you can hire the right C-suite leader, from a CEO to a board member or director, without incurring the more costly percentage-of-salary-based fees used by other leading search firms.

Cause Leadership also commits to helping charitable organizations diversify, become younger in their leadership and better represent their clients. As a result, Cause Leadership successfully works with a broad spectrum of organizations in the charitable sector.

4. Gerard Search

Gerard Search is one of the best executive headhunters based in Vancouver and specializes in recruiting for frontline fundraising roles, fundraising operation roles, alumni/volunteer relations roles, marketing and communication. In addition, they offer career counselling and digital promotion and include talent search for junior and mid-level positions.

They maintain a talent pool from which organizations can recruit candidates at all levels. Their mission is “helping make good happen.” Their president has a background in fundraising and started Gerard Search in 2012.

5. Griffith Group

Griffith Group was started in 2021, focusing on senior-level recruitment for academic, not-for-profit and broader public sector organizations across the country. The Griffith Group has a solid commitment to advancing Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility, as witnessed in their diversity advisory council and the types of roles they recruit.

They are Toronto-based but draw on their history as their founder also founded Griffith Research. They serve clients around the world.

6. KCI Philanthropy

KCI Philanthropy consults with the nonprofit sector across the country, specializing in fundraising, strategy, research/analytics and executive search.

Their core purpose is to “inspire and enable organizations to raise money, to make the dream of better communities and improved lives a reality.” Toronto-based KCI Philanthropy has 35 years of experience in the education, health, social service, arts and culture and religious sectors.

KCI Talent is one of the best hiring firms for C-level positions that primarily offers fundraising and senior leadership positions.

7. Nelson/Kraft & Associates Inc

Established in 2018, Nelson/Kraft & Associates works primarily with faith-based organizations and churches, offering executive recruitment, board governance, succession planning and strategic planning, leadership assessment (Birkman method) and executive coaching.

As one of the top firms in C-level recruitment, its mission is to “enable your organization to make a greater impact by achieving your purpose from optimum health and capacity.” They are based in Vancouver but work across the country. They have public and private sector experience as well as within the nonprofit, charitable and faith-based sectors.

8. Preston Human Capital Group

Established in 2006 and based in Toronto, Preston Human Capital Group works with clients and job seekers. They work with what they call “best in class” organizations across sectors and around the world, from startups to global companies, as well as nonprofits, charities, academic and health care organizations. Preston Human Capital Group provides executive assessment, advisory, succession planning, workplace and strategic analysis.

Their stated mission is: “connecting great humans is our capital.” Their founder worked in recruiting and marketing services, starting one of the country’s top three direct marketing companies before returning to the search industry. Preston Human Capital Group also works with EDI partners.

9. Searchlight Partners

Founded in 2004 in Toronto, Searchlight Partners builds leadership teams and finds talent for leading organizations in arts and culture, technology, media, sports and entertainment, and nonprofits, government and social enterprise. Searchlight Partners, one of the best executive recruiting companies in Toronto, offers leadership coaching, Board consultancy, and programs that enhance workplace culture, strategy, and talent recruitment.

Their purpose is “finding work that matters to each person and connecting those people to companies where they can drive meaningful impact.” Their team has hired senior talent in their past roles as CEOs of leading public companies.

One additional way top leader recruiting firms serve nonprofit organizations is to help them avoid costly hiring mistakes when searching for their next executive leader.

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