Nonprofit Executive Directors – You Are at Risk Without a Job Description

Many nonprofits let the Executive Director decide for themselves what their priorities are and how they should spend their time. This is a risky situation and one that can easily rectified with an Executive Director Job Description and with Annual Objectives for the ED.

If you are an Executive Director, start writing your own Job Description now. Review it with your Personnel Committee or the Board President. Make sure that the entire board sees and agrees with your job description. Be persistent if you think that the board is not in agreement about your scope of responsibility and what the board expects you to accomplish.

Once you have a Job Description, be sure that you have 3-5 Annual Objectives that state your expected accomplishments for the year. These objectives will be changes that you are expected to make, new programs that you will start, improvements that you will be overseeing, people you will be hiring, or funds you will be raising. Each objective should be Specific, Measurable and Time-Bound. The more specificity you can put in the Annual Objectives, the better. Again, make sure that the Board President, the Personnel Committee, and the entire board are in agreement with your Objectives.

This list describes the five basic areas of responsibility for any Executive Director. Use this list as a starting point to write your own Job Description and for your discussions with our board today.

The Executive Director is responsible for these five, critical areas:

1. Program Management – Manage all Programs and Projects. Create a 3-5 year strategic view that allows all staff, volunteers, and board members to understand the short-term future of the organization, its programs, and key factors for success.

2. Fundraising – Develop and execute an annual fundraising plan that includes donor database management, donor communications, major gifts solicitation, corporate sponsorship, grant applications and reporting, and donor stewardship (thank you process). This fundraising plan will target fundraising for 130% of the annual expense budget and could include the management of staff, volunteer and board member resources..

3. Personnel Management – Managing a staff of four full-time office staff and six part-time field staff. This includes providing them with job descriptions, defining annual objectives with them, supporting their efforts and program implementations, developing their talents, transferring knowledge to these employees, conducting an annual appraisal and helping them develop a personal development program to ensure they are achieving their own personal leadership goals.

4. Budgeting – Work closely with the Finance Committee of the board to develop annual program-specific and organizational budgets. (The annual budget will be approved by the board during the 4th quarter of each year for the following year.) Manage all cash flow, accounting and record-keeping while ensuring that sound fiscal processes and procedures are established and maintained. Hire an outside accountant to provide an annual audit of the fiscal operations of the organization.

5. Communication – with various key stakeholders:

a. Local Partners – to plan, implement and evaluate local programs.

b. Funding Sources – to maintain a relationship with current and potential sources of funds as projects and programs dictate.

c. Donors – All existing and potential donors, grantors, and sponsors.

d. Board – Reports monthly to the board and ensures that positive board/staff relationships are maintained.

e. Work directly with the Board President on a continual basis to ensure achieve the mission, and manage projects and programs in a legal and ethical manner.

NOTE: The Executive Director reports to the Board President and is responsible for managing all staff and volunteer personnel for all programs and projects in support of the mission. Annual objectives will be established for this position and an in-person review will be conducted by Board President during the last month of each year.