The Ms. Foundation for Women was established in 1973 by founders Gloria Steinem, Patricia Carbine, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, and Marlo Thomas. Its mission: To bring awareness to social injustice; provide funding and resources for organizations fighting for gender equality and human rights; and to be a voice against discrimination at work, at home, and in public policy.
With just a small team of about 25 people based in Brooklyn, the foundation has provided funding and grassroots support to more than 100 organizations working on issues such as reproductive health, child sexual abuse prevention, affordable child care, and workplace equality.
What qualities do you look for in every candidate?
In addition to the necessary subject matter knowledge for each position, we look for candidates whose values are in line with our mission: to build women’s collective power to realize social equality for all. We do this through our grant making, capacity building [structural support for the organizations they support], and policy, advocacy and public education work. We also look for individuals who are professional and kind. We are about 25 people in total. Everyone works really hard and gets along really well.
With such a small team, how often do you hire new people?
We just filled two new positions, and we have five remaining open positions, which is more than we’d normally have. We typically hire two to three new people every year. Smaller nonprofits [like the Ms. Foundation] tend to keep headcount small because the mission is very specific and because funding [is limited].
What areas of the foundation are growing fastest right now?
Although we’re a small team, the areas that are pretty hot and always growing are the program areas, including grant making, capacity building, communications and policy advocacy. For nonprofits that are public charities — which means we’re not simply living off an endowment; we raise our funding through the public — fundraising positions are always key.
What do you expect candidates to know about the Ms. Foundation before an interview?
We would expect that any candidate coming in has done their homework on us in advance, and has basic knowledge of the facts and history of the foundation. We are a pretty iconic [brand]. If nothing else, we’d expect them to be aware of the founding mothers and have an understanding of what grant making is and how grassroots organizations work.
Where do you recruit candidates?
We’re based in Brooklyn, so most of the candidates we hire are locally based or in the tristate area. All of our positions are posted on our website. We also promote them via social media and on Idealist and Indeed, and on the Feminist Majority Foundation [jobs board]. We tend to go to websites that attract people interested in nonprofits. For senior roles, we source LinkedIn and rely heavily on word-of-mouth, networking, and professional recruiters.
Do you attend trade shows or campus recruiting events where candidates might have a chance to network with you?
Historically we haven’t leveraged trades shows as much, primarily because we are a small staff. We have done some talks at college campuses in the past, and we expect to do more. Activism is fostered at the college level, and we like to connect with students.
Is there an etiquette to job seekers interacting with you on social media?
We are open to engagement. We are active on most of the social media platforms — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram — and we encourage all individuals who want to know about the organization to chime in on those platforms. They could like us or follow us. In terms of the etiquette, if you’re looking to have connections with the foundation and potentially work here, it’s always important to present yourself professionally and seek to learn as much as you can.
Do you Google your candidates to check out how they represent themselves online?
Everyone who is working for the foundation is representing the foundation. So it’s important for us to get a sense of the kind of person they are and how they would represent us. I would expect that candidates were looking us up as well — not only the foundation, but some of the senior people, particularly the CEO, and who they’d be reporting to.