Whether you are a nonprofit hoping to put together an Executive Director job description for an upcoming vacancy, or a candidate hoping to find the right nonprofit to lead, there’s a chance that you are looking for some solid examples to help you sort out what is best for you or your nonprofit.
Frankly, finding a qualified Executive Director takes significant effort on part of a nonprofit’s Board of Directors, executive search committee, and others directly impacted by the hire. Likewise, candidates interested in this role have a vested interest in searching for a nonprofit that meets their requirements.
Here are 3 sample Executive Director job descriptions that will show you the components of a good job description and what they mean for your nonprofit or job search.
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1. The Introduction/General Description: Nonprofit Center’s Executive Director Sample
The Nonprofit Center’s sample Executive Director job description is available on their website. This is a great document that can definitely help your nonprofit with the structure of the description as well as the best language to use. However, I suggest taking a look at this document because of its great introduction.
Here’s an excerpt:
Under the direction and guidance of the Board of Directors, the person in this position is responsible for the planning, organizing, staffing, motivating, directing, and management of a residential/educational agency committed to serving the at-risk youth under its care and their families.
This introduction is compact and makes good use of space through the use of action verbs. The job applicant learns who they are reporting to (Board of Directors), the primary responsibilities of the position, and the nonprofit’s clientele.
After the introduction, a job description should feature the duties that will be performed by the Executive Director. This example by North Central Michigan College provides a solid example of both the language to use as well as the ideal flow.
Here are 6 out of the 18 duties outlined on this job description:
- Identifies, cultivates and solicits major and planned gifts, and relationships with foundations, corporations, individuals and community organizations.
- Monitors Foundation activities; identifies and corrects problems related to areas such as funding, expenditures and related matters.
- Supervises Foundation staff.
- Manages and coordinates volunteer and professional relationships in support of Foundation events, major/planned gift fundraising activities, and the annual campaign.
- Creates and oversees the distribution of marketing materials for the Foundation, including a monthly newsletter to the Foundation Board of Directors.
- Meets with community members and organizations to tell the North Central story and to gain financial support.
Note that every duty begins with an action verb in the present tense (identifies, monitors, supervises, manages, creates, meets). Each line includes the action, who is involved, and the purpose. After reading this section, your prospective applicant should know exactly what is expected of them in the position.
Keep in mind that job descriptions are oftentimes used to evaluate an employee’s performance while on the job, so be sure to include every important duty to ensure thoroughness.
2. Requirements: Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County Executive Director
Every Executive Director job description needs a list of requirements that the search committee will use to rank applicants. Your requirements should include the education, work, and interpersonal traits that would make an ideal candidate.
Here’s a thorough example from the Executive Director job description from the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County. The requirements include:
Bachelor’s degree plus the successful completion of various professional development courses.
Proven track record of success in a leadership position overseeing operations of an organization or program with exposure to foundations, while maintaining solid relationships with staff, board, donors and community.
A minimum of three years of senior level nonprofit organization experience is preferred.
Successful resource development, fundraising and philanthropy experience.
Significant experience as a paid or volunteer leader at a not-for-profit organization.
A solid knowledge of accounting, budgeting, financial management and marketing.
Extensive experience in leading the process of ongoing strategic planning.
Extensive experience in public speaking/public relations.
An entrepreneurial spirit, preferably including experience developing and implementing public-private partnerships to achieve community-wide social and economic goals.
What a list! It is clear, yet personalized to the position. It outlines the educational requirements (Bachelor’s degree), work experience (success in a leadership position, 3 years senior-level nonprofit experience), other relevant experience (strategic planning, public speaking, finance), and interpersonal traits (entrepreneurial spirit). The list will ultimately help match the perfect candidate to the job.
3. The Complete Package: CASA Executive Director Sample
It’s time to put it all together in a nice, clean package. Although each of the above-mentioned descriptions are great, this example by CASA is an ideal job template for most nonprofits searching for an Executive Director.
The wonderful thing about this job description is the attention to detail. It features numerous subheadings detailing the job duties along with long and short-term goals.
The subheadings CASA recommends for the Executive Director position include:
- Resource Development and Maintenance
- Agency and Program Planning
- Short Term
- Long Term
- Community and Public Relations
- Personnel Management
- Board of Directors Liaison
- Fiscal Management
Remember to be specific and as clear as possible when creating a job description for the sake of both your applicants and your search committee.
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If you are part of a search committee or a nonprofit that is looking to hire an Executive Director, your best bet is to figure out the aspects of each one of these examples that you like and combine them with the criteria you deem worthy for the position.
As a candidate actively searching for an Executive Director position, pay attention to the details in each job description. Take the qualifications to heart and avoid jobs that you aren’t qualified for. If you notice a lack of personalization or clarity in the job description, you may want to consider overlooking that one.
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