The Role of an Executive Director of a Non-Profit Organization

By Nichole Hoskins

The executive director of a nonprofit has numerous duties, the most important of which is carrying out the mission of the organization. Strong nonprofit organizations have executive directors who understand the broad role and perform it well. The most effective directors are involved in all aspects of organizational management including human resources, financial management, day-to-day duties, and overall operations.

Operational Duties

While the responsibilities of executive directors can vary from organization to organization, overseeing an organization’s different departments is a duty that all executive directors share. A director might also hire key management staff, maintain a positive relationship with the board of directors, and implement fundraising strategies and goals.

Human Resources

A nonprofit executive director is ultimately responsible for the management of the organization's human resources operations. Depending on the size of the organization, the executive director might supervise a team of managers or have direct involvement with the entire staff. An executive director might also create job descriptions for staff positions, design evaluation tools and recruit managers. The executive director also establishes the overall environment for the office and ensures that each department supports the desired atmosphere.

Ready to form a nonprofit? Get Started Now

Accountability to Board of Directors

A nonprofit can thrive when both the board of directors and the executive director are committed to a common vision for the organization. It is important, therefore, for the board and the executive director to have a successful working relationship. The board selects the executive director and has the authority to terminate his employment. The board evaluates the director's performance and has the duty to guarantee that the executive director is guiding the nonprofit properly and protecting its mission.

Fundraising and Financial Management

Among the most important responsibilities of the executive director is determining how the organization will generate and spend its funds. Because raising funds and managing them wisely is key to the overall survival of a nonprofit, the executive director is likely the person responsible for developing a fundraising plan and implementing it. This responsibility includes creating an annual budget for the nonprofit and ensuring that all funds raised are used to further the organization's mission.

Ready to form a nonprofit? Get Started Now
Can a Nonprofit Board Fire the Executive Director?



Related articles

Does a Nonprofit Board Have to Approve Contracts or Can the Executive Director Do That?

A nonprofit's board of directors is legally responsible for financial oversight of the organization. By adopting bylaws that set organizational controls and hiring a competent executive director to manage the nonprofit's day-to-day affairs, the board ensures that the organization can further its mission without needing its daily input. While the board of your organization can delegate authority to handle ordinary business matters, certain types of contracts may still require board approval.

Conflict of Interest Policy for 501(c)(3)

Tax exempt nonprofits serve to promote a particular public good. Sometimes, however, individuals involved with the organization may choose to use their position of authority to gain personal benefits at the expense of the nonprofit. This is referred to as a conflict of interest, and having a policy in place to properly handle a conflict when it occurs can help your organization maintain compliance with the Internal Revenue Service.

Fiduciary Responsibility of a Presidential Officer for a Nonprofit

The president of a nonprofit, like the president of a for-profit business, is legally required to act with special care towards the nonprofit. The president is a "fiduciary" of the nonprofit: an individual in a special position of trust who must not abuse that position. She functions as an employee and must act with a heightened standard of care known as a "fiduciary duty."

Doing the right thing has never been easier. Nonprofit

Related articles

Legal Obligations for Hiring an Executive Director of a Nonprofit

Hiring an executive director is an important step for any expanding nonprofit. In addition to practical considerations ...

How to Start a Non-Profit Organization for At-Risk Youth

Starting a nonprofit for at-risk youth can be as complex as starting a for-profit enterprise. Although it may be ...

What Are the Duties of a Non-Profit President?

The duties of the president of a nonprofit corporation are defined by federal and state law, as well as by the articles ...

Can a 501(c)(3) Make a Profit?

A 501(c)(3) organization is a nonprofit that has made a special election with the Internal Revenue Service to be ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED