• By: RedPen
  • March 25, 2022
Reading Time: 5 minutes
5 Nonprofit Executive Director Responsibilities

The nonprofit executive director role is critically important to the ongoing success of the organization. Take the preparatory steps needed for success.

A nonprofit executive director shoulders huge, critical tasks of the nonprofit organization. They must be well-versed with their role and its impact on the organization’s mission without creating any confusion. That means ensuring that junior leaders (veteran staff) and new recruits understand the power and responsibilities of this highly regarded position and do everything they can to support their vision for the future. 

As a study by ResearchGate found out, one challenge that a new nonprofit executive director faces stems from an organization founder’s syndrome. It creates a lot of uncertainties because other existing veterans expect the incoming executive director to lead in the shadows of the founder, and they may think they should answer to the founder(s) rather than the new executive director (ED). 

Whether you’re an aspiring executive director or considering a nonprofit CEO job description in another organization, it is highly important to gain an in-depth understanding of what the role means and work together with your junior directors to build an effective nonprofit board. That not only affirms your role as the leader, but works to empower the role, maximize its impact, and enlighten the entire team of how nonprofits work.


Nonprofit Executive Director Responsibilities

Use the following key insights and intelligence to equip yourself and your organization with the information needed to achieve rapid and sustained results from your nonprofit leadership. Below are the five top responsibilities outlined in a nonprofit director job description:

1. Leadership

Think of the executive director as the nonprofit organization’s president. This nonprofit leader oversees the directors of each department in the organization and represents their interests when reporting to the nonprofit board of directors. Department directors might include marketing, HR, fundraising or product-development. Typically, the executive director offers the department heads strategic guidance on processes related to their respective dockets. 

The level of influence the ED has on each department depends on the organization’s size. The smaller the nonprofit, the more directly they’ll be involved at the departmental level. Regardless, it’s the board’s president’s role to clearly communicate the company’s vision, mission, objectives, and strategic direction. With that in mind, they ensure that each department moves towards a common goal despite their varied undertakings. 

2. Programming & Board Development

The ED’s role is to work together with the board to create, plan, and implement the right programs and activities and ensure they meet their respective mission and goals. 

Thus, executive directors must find a balance between charity and advocacy. For example, should the nonprofit focus on providing treatment to communities suffering from a certain health problem, or should it work towards ending the health crisis in the first place? Or should it do both?

The ED may not be directly involved in the programs’ implementation at the grass-root level, but they must demonstrate the bigger picture with the board.

Remember, the nonprofit executive committee roles and responsibilities center on the executive director. That implies board members aren’t mandated to make the final decisions regarding the organization’s operations, but the board’s president makes those critical decisions. 

The role of the nonprofit executive director is to ensure the department heads have the tools and resources they require to inspire change and growth within their departments, and consequently, drive the entity towards its goals. As the board’s primary resource, the executive director assumes the following responsibilities:

  • Contribute to the selection of board members and act as a liaison withstaff.
  • Inform the board of staff changes, donor information, ongoing campaign details, and any areas where departmental staff requires help.
  • Communicate any staff and volunteer engagement ideas and other concerns that call for the board’s involvement. 
  • Plan and prepare board meetings, meeting structure, and meeting agendas in coordination with the board’s chair.
  • Offer technological resources the board needs to implement its role and maximize the impact.

In providing strategic guidance on the day-to-day running of a nonprofit organization, the board’s responsibilities in a nonprofit entity vary based on several factors, such as the organization’s mission and structure. However, some common responsibilities that every nonprofit executive committee undertakes include:

  • Establishing the organization’s mission, vision, and goal.
  • Hiring the executive director and setting the metrics to assess their performance.
  • Working with internal staff to establish the short- and long-term objectives.
  • Streamlining the organization’s operations, services, and activities for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Conducting donor campaigns to secure the funds needed to fulfill the organization’s mission.
  • Reviewing, planning, and approving the budget and communicating financial oversight.
  • Maximizing its support and outreach to the community.
  • Ensuring the company meets its legal and ethical requirements.
  • Hiring new board members according to the company’s policies.

3. Finance

While an executive committee reviews and approves a nonprofit’s budget, the executive director is tacitly mandated to oversee the organization’s financial management. Hence, the nonprofit executive director is responsible for organizing fundraising campaigns and positioning the entity for financial success. 

Additionally, the ED must be directly involved in its annual accounting cycle. Therefore, they must understand and interpret financial documents, including bookkeeping records, budget, cash flows, general financial statements, and analysis reports. 

4. Compliance

The ED must also keep tabs on internal control forms to ensure the nonprofit organization remains in conformance with its financial plans, minimizes the likelihood of human errors, and mitigates employee theft. For instance, this individual must regularly communicate with the head of the finance department, hire reliable and trustworthy staff, and oversee various financial records. 

They must also understand the nitty-gritty of Form 990 nonprofit tax filing processes and financial audits to ensure the entity complies with the legal implications of the organization’s finances. They need not necessarily be a financial expert, but they must demonstrate financial competence to brainstorm real financial growth strategies. 

5. Technology

The nonprofit executive director must wear many hats as they juggle a heavy workload. Using technology to help streamline processes and work more efficiently, EDs can track progress and increase productivity with board management software designed to keep everyone in your nonprofit organization working toward the same goals. 

OnBoard’s board intelligence platform offers an effective and easy solution to maximize the executive director’s role and increase board effectiveness. With the OnBoard platform, board members gain real-time access to board agendas, important board materials, and other meeting resources, so everyone arrives informed and ready to tackle the board’s business.

With the right digital board portal, executive directors, administrators, and other board members save time and significantly improve their overall effectiveness and efficiency.

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OnBoard Powers Nonprofit Boards

A nonprofit executive director’s role in an organization can never be overemphasized. This leader is the organization’s most executive employee, laying down strategies that empower the executive committee to undertake its core functions. Still, they assume the role of the contact person between the internal staff and the board.

Nonetheless, with the right board management software buyer’s guide, you can alleviate the stress of choosing the right software program. Consequently, you can confidently invest in a platform that can help you make the most critical decisions affecting the nonprofit organization.

At OnBoard, we are here to offer you an intelligent and intuitive platform to help you manage your board in every aspect. With us by your side, you not only get reliable market and skill-tracking insights, but you get unrivaled access to powerful technology that takes away the guesswork, enabling you to make better decisions with boldness.

Contact us today to start your free trial and unlock your board’s full potential. 

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