Are you in the market for an Executive Director?
Here are some simple tips to help you find a highly qualified Executive Director for your nonprofit.
What Is An Executive Director?
The role of an Executive Director (ED) varies depending on the needs of your nonprofit. However, there are a handful of job tasks that almost all ED’s perform during their tenure.
- Provide general management and leadership
- Guide strategic planning for the organization
- Encourage and engage all members of the nonprofit, including staff, volunteers, clients, and donors.
- Support and provide guidance to the Board of Directors
- Provide a leadership role in generating revenue (fundraising, grants, etc.)
- Expand the size and scope of the organization as necessary.
First, you need to put together an executive search committee composed of board members and other nonprofit stakeholders that show strong leadership and communication skills.
Make sure that the committee understands that recruiting Executive Directors for a nonprofit is often a very hard job to accomplish. After all, almost all of your potential candidates are probably also qualified for employment in the private sector, and these jobs usually pay substantially more.
However, no one should be discouraged! There are candidates out there that are both qualified and eager to work toward creating change and impact.
“There are candidates out there that are both qualified and eager to work toward creating change and impact…” tweet this
With that being said, the first main task for the search committee is to fine tune the job description. Aside from the work, education, and other requirements of your organization, it is important to outline why your organization will provide a meaningful and worthwhile experience for your Executive Director somewhere in the description.
The avenues to advertise the job itself vary depending on the resources that your nonprofit has available. Consider the following:
- Your website
- An executive search firm (also known as a “headhunting” business) or another recruiter
- Nonprofit-centric job search engines and publications including Idealist, Commongood Careers, The Nonprofit Times, The Chronicle of Philanthropy
The cost to advertise on your website or on an online search engine ranges is minimal. Whereas using a recruiter may require a high upfront cost, but there is usually a guarantee associated with this service.
Narrowing and Interviewing Your Candidates
Your search will likely lead to a number of candidates, both qualified and unqualified. If you sign up for a service (through your recruiter or an online search engine) that vets the first round of applications, that makes the job of combing through the applications that much easier for your search committee.
Have the committee put together a list of 5-7 candidates that have the characteristics and requirements that were deemed “requirements” in the job description.
The search committee will probably have some ideas about what makes one applicant stronger than another, so it is important that your committee remain on the same page on your first-tier candidate selection before continuing. Here are some things that should signal a “red-flag” to your search committee:
- Impersonal cover letter or generic language
- A lack of enthusiasm for your cause
- Not illustrating a proven record of leadership and management
Aside from having the required educational and work background, a quality application will include:
- Evidence of problem-solving experience and skills
- Job loyalty
- A cover letter that indicates long-term goals
- Attention to detail in grammar and spelling
- Experience working with a team in a leadership role
Once the list is narrowed, it is time to bring the candidates in for an interview. All candidates should be interviewed by the committee and ranked accordingly. Then, it is best to bring your top 2 or 3 candidates in for a second round of interviews. At this point, the committee should also check references.
By the end of the interview process, your committee should be able to determine the candidate that is best qualified to manage the nonprofit.
Compensation and Other Things To Consider
It is always best to make the salary range and benefits available at the beginning of the interview process. That way, your candidates can choose to continue on in the process or withdraw their application.
When negotiating with your chosen candidate, you will be presenting an offer that includes a salary, vacation time, relocation, and other job benefits. Work within the means of your nonprofit and consider factors such as budgeting and company policies before offering something that may be outside of your nonprofit’s means.
“Work within the means of your nonprofit and consider factors such as budgeting and company policies…” tweet this
Finding a highly qualified Executive Director is not easy, but with the availability of job search engines and executive search firms, as well as the support of a strong and united executive search committee, the right ED is bound to find his/her way to your nonprofit.