MR KWAN Jin Yao believes offering more attractive remuneration and a defined career path for staff in social service organisations should be the first step in having the right people on the ground ("Talent search must go beyond leaders"; Wednesday).

Those who choose a career in the not-for-profit sector must have the required passion, so they will consequently find their own motivation.

In order to sustain their enthusiasm, the sector must boldly tackle the challenges of the squeeze in public sector funding and competition for donations.

While it is important for voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) to recruit and retain the best talent at senior management levels, charities have survived for decades without expensive corporate talent.

Instead of jostling for such talent, VWOs need to tap the different skills and experience of their full-time management teams and boards comprising volunteers. They should concentrate on attracting the right people on the ground, and develop and nurture them.

Staff must be kept motivated with clear goals and objectives to work towards, instead of through remuneration alone.

VWOs should have an adequate training budget and tap complementary courses conducted by organisations such as the Social Service Institute.

Social enterprises can bid for and deliver both public and private sector contracts, with profits directed to the charities they support. They must also make more creative use of their reserves, instead of allowing money to just sit in the bank.

Many not-for-profit organisations do not engage in regular fund-raising activities because these are labour-intensive with little payback. This can be overcome by motivating volunteers to learn new fund-raising skills and put them into practice.

What the not-for-profit sector needs is to generate its own income - perhaps through a social enterprise - in order to fund overheads as well as charitable causes.

The key is flexibility in being able to diversify and being proactive in taking opportunities.