How to Write a Job Description for a Nonprofit Executive Director

How To Write A Job Description for a Nonprofit Executive Director

How to Write a Job Description for a Nonprofit Executive Director

When it comes to job descriptions, it is imperative that they are informative, as well as incentivizing for potential candidates to apply. For the job description of an executive director for a nonprofit, you want to make sure you thoroughly cover all major responsibilities, as well as the organization’s mission. The description should be kept short and be easy to read and digest. The language you use should have a focus on being inclusive and welcoming, creating excitement for someone to apply when they are reading it. In this article, we will explain how to write an effective job description for a nonprofit executive director and why some information is extremely important to include!

What does an Executive Director do for a nonprofit?

Executive Directors help to fill they key administrative role for a nonprofit organization and lead the staff. They are responsible for setting the cultural tone of their organization and representing the nonprofit. Their list of responsibilities also includes staff motivation, overseeing the finances of the organization, and creating the most impact they can on behalf of the organization’s mission.

Being an Executive Director for a nonprofit has a lot of pressure that comes along with the position, including fundraising, financial management, and execution of certain programs on a limited budget. Compared to corporate businesses, executive directors have to find different ways to meet their operational needs.

What’s the difference between a CEO and an Executive Director for a nonprofit?

In some nonprofits, the Executive Director is essentially the CEO of the organization, but it depends on how each organization is structured. An Executive Director role can turn into that of a CEO when the organization continues to grow in both size and in revenue. Executive Directors tend to have a more hands-on oversight than CEOs, whereas CEOs will have more power with making hirings, firing decisions, and purchasing power.

What skills are needed for an Executive Director

Executive Directors for nonprofits have to have a very well-refined set of managerial skills. Finding candidates who meet these criteria and have experience in leading a team of employees is crucial. The candidate should have a history of creating a healthy culture within an organization, as well as directing the strategy of the organization. If they meet these qualifications set within your job description, they should be the ideal candidate.

Example of a Nonprofit Executive Director Job Description

Here is our sample job description for a nonprofit Executive Director:

[XYZ Organization] seeks a mission-driven and experienced nonprofit business leader skilled in successfully executing strategic plans and empowering high performing staff. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will be based at the organization’s offices in City, State, and have overall management responsibility for growing an impactful organization with a $XYZ million annual budget, and XYZ+ employees.


This full-time permanent position is for immediate hire and reports to a supportive and professional Board ofDirectors. This impactful leadership position is responsible for overseeing the administration, programs, and strategic plan of the organization. This position requires a dynamic, mission-driven leader who is passionate about leading hands-on operations, fostering growth, as well as developing and managing XYZ programs.


  • Oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization and ensure its overall successful long-term operations
  • Assure that the organization makes consistent and timely progress in achieving its mission and target programmatic impact
  • Provide leadership in developing program, organizational, and financial plans and execute on the policies authorized by the Board
  • Plan, actively manage, and oversee the organization’s operations, programs, fundraising, and operations while ensuring the organization’s financial sustainability
  • Oversee and report on the organization’s results for Board of Directors
  • Drive development and fundraising in collaboration with the Development Director, leveraging the Board as needed
  • Lead, manage, and guide the organization to attain continued growth, success, and optimal mission impact for XYZ programs and services
  • Actively engage in complex fiscal management through hands on budgetary development and oversight; routinely report performance and financial activities to the Board
  • Provide thoughtful executive leadership that is inclusive, transparent, and empowering in a manner that supports and guides the organization’s mission as defined by the Board of Trustees
  • Foster a collaborative working environment, encourage professional development, and champion accountability amongst staff
  • Attend all Board meetings and provide reports and updates on staff as well as all current work, project timelines, and project and organizational progress
  • Establish goals, objectives, and operational plans in collaboration with the Board of Directors, staff, and other leaders
  • Communicate effectively with the Board by providing members with all information necessary to continually function properly and make informed decisions in a timely and accurate manner
  • Effectively represent the organization and promote a positive organizational image to ensure adequate community representation
  • Organize, motivate, and mentor internal team leaders to strategically grow the organization’s impact, programs, and fundraising, and to effectively fulfill its important mission
  • Apply innovative thinking and performance measurements to analyze and support strategic decision-making
  • Continually foster a culture that encourages collaboration between departments and recognizes positive contributions
  • Contribute to the strategic plan and drive its implementation
  • Manage and motivate staff, overseeing processes such as hiring, separation, ongoing staff development, performance management, and compensation and benefits
  • Inspire a business-oriented, professional, results-driven environment across the organization
  • Perform general management duties ensuring the successful operations of the organization


The ideal candidate for this role embraces servant-leadership as well as a thoughtful approach to day-to-day operational management, strategic planning, and organizational leadership. Qualified candidate should bring:

  • At least seven years of prior executive experience as a successful leader of a related nonprofit organization and/or organization
  • A proven track record of growing organizational capacity and programmatic impact
  • A strong passion for the mission and programs of XYZ
  • Proven abilities and experience in fiscal management and preparing and securing Board approval for a complex budget
  • Passion for creative program creation and organizational funding growth
  • Ability to review current organizational programs/structures and make recommendations that empower programmatic refinements
  • Capacity to excel at influencing and leading an organization towards positive growth
  • Capable of designing and directing strategies that enhance and support organizational operations
  • Knowledge of how to foster an environment of accountability, healthy work relationships and partnerships, and inclusivity among organizational staff in order to maintain a positive and collaborative work environment
  • Experience in creating and establishing clear, measurable business goals
  • Outstanding communication skills and ability to work well with media, staff, and the community


This wonderful opportunity offers the ability to make significant impact leading and growing an impactful nonprofit leading XYZ. This career opportunity offers a strong starting base salary, a full benefits package, and a team-oriented atmosphere that is both positive and rewarding. Starting compensation includes: a very competitive salary dependent on experience of XZY to ZYX, plus full benefits package that includes [list out as many positive aspects of your package as possible. include your flexible work policy, paid parental leave, inclusive health insurance benefits (trans-inclusive doctors and transition related care; benefits that cover domestic partners, etc.), floating holidays, mental health benefits, and more.].

Consider indicating a salary range: In 2021, women earned 82 cents for every dollar men earned. Asian women are earning 85 cents, Black women are earning 63 cents, Native American women are earning 60 cents, and Latina women are earning 55 cents for every dollar earned by their White, male counterparts. Those are some dismal gaps. Including a salary range in the job description builds trust for prospective talent early on. It lets female and underrepresented prospects know that you’re committed to equity and fair pay. After all, the salary you disclose will be the salary regardless of the candidate’s gender, race, or other demographic characteristics.


For immediate consideration please send your resume, cover letter, and salary requirements in a WORD.docx format to First Last via email to Attn: First Last, Title using the subject title: “XZY ORG CEO SEARCH.”

Review of applications, nominations, and expressions of interest will begin immediately and continue on a confidential basis until an appointment is made.

XZY is an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages diversity and equity in all facets of the organization’s work. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other protected class.

Scion Nonprofit Executive Search can help you find your next Executive Director

Are you trying to fill an executive position at your nonprofit organization? We can help. Scion Nonprofit specializes in placing experienced, mission-driven nonprofit staff members from the entry-level to the executive level. Learn more about our nonprofit executive search firm services and how we can help you find the best candidates.