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13 Most Common Paid Job Titles in Nonprofits and What They Do

13 Most Common Job Titles in Nonprofits and What They Do

Nonprofits are all about improving people’s lives and the world around them. They do this by raising money to fund various projects, which could be anything from providing disaster relief in a developing country or helping homeless veterans find housing in America.

Nonprofit organizations need people with different skill sets to help them succeed, so it is important for job seekers to know what they’re getting into before applying for these positions.

This article will go over the most common jobs and responsibilities that you can get paid for within nonprofits, as well as some potential paths that might lead you there!

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Executive Director

Depending on the organizational management structure, Executive Directors are responsible for overseeing the entire organization. This position is strategic and often requires an MBA, which will teach you how to manage people, foster teamwork among employees, make decisions by analyzing data using statistical techniques such as regression analysis or time-series forecasting, and more!

An Executive Director will usually be the face of the organization and will communicate with donors, staff members, volunteers, the board of directors, or anyone else who is interested in what the nonprofit does.

Skills needed: MBA (or other graduate degree), strong leadership skills

Potential paths that could lead you here: Public Policy Degree/Masters in Nonprofit Management from a top school such as Harvard, Yale or Stanford

Related for-profit jobs: President or CEO of a major corporation, nonprofit staff member with experience on the board of directors; senior executive in a for-profit or nonprofit.

Fundraising Director/Development Manager (aka Major Gifts Officer)

This is one of the most important positions in a nonprofit organization because it’s responsible for securing money to fund projects and programs. They work with donors to identify their philanthropic goals and find out how the nonprofit can help them achieve those. This job requires a lot of networking, which is why you need excellent people skills in order to serve as an effective Fundraising Director/Development Manager

This position usually has a strict fundraising goal for each year (such as $250,000), and they’re responsible for coming up with ways to meet that goal. The Fundraising Director/Development Manager has a lot of responsibility, but great benefits such as a cell phone and car stipends or bonus structures for exceeding fundraising goals.

Skills needed: excellent people skills; experience working within the fundraising department or nonprofit organizations’ preferred software, such as SalesForce.com

Potential paths that could lead you here: Public Policy Degree/Masters in Nonprofit Management; Years of sales experience and sales force leadership; MBA (or another graduate degree) and previous experience within the fundraising department of nonprofit organizations

Related for-profit jobs: Major Gifts Officer at an organization such as a hospital or university; Fundraising Manager at an organization like the American Red Cross

Director of Community Engagement (Outreach)

The Director of Community Engagement is responsible for creating and implementing community engagement plans. This person spends their time coordinating events, identifying community partnerships to increase the impact of those events, networking with organizations in similar fields or local leaders who are interested in partnering on new projects, and more!

Skills needed: Business development experience; knowledge about nonprofit communities, networks, and alliances

Potential paths that could lead you here: Public Policy Degree/Masters in Nonprofit Management; High impact community advocate for a university; Special events planner with the ability to raise funds; MBA (or other graduate degree) with experience within the nonprofit community engagement field or relevant business development positions at a for-profit company.

Related for-profit jobs: Corporate Director of Communications whose responsibilities include managing outreach efforts to the community; Special Events Manager (Coordinator)

Finance & Accounting Manager / CFO / Controller

The Finance & Accounting Manager is responsible for the financial wellbeing of a nonprofit organization. They will work with other board members, directors, and staff to create budgets and identify gaps in funding sources as well as areas where more funds are needed.

They will ensure financial controls are in place and that all transactions are recorded accurately. They might also be responsible for budgeting staff time, overseeing the procurement of goods or services from vendors, and more.

The annual tax filings, including Form 990, will be managed by the CFO.

Skills needed: experience with nonprofit accounting software; knowledge about financial controls

Potential paths that could lead you here: MBA (or other graduate degree); CPA license; previous experience as the CFO of a small business

Related for-profit jobs: Corporate Controller or Financial Manager; Corporate Treasurer

Director of Programs & Services

The Director of Programs & Services is responsible for the management, development, and evaluation of programs in order to support a nonprofit’s mission.

This includes identifying program needs, writing grant proposals, managing budgets, working with other departments (such as marketing) or board members on developing new programs and initiatives that will expand their reach.

They might be involved in developing new partnerships with other organizations or conducting research to support the organization’s programs.

Skills needed: Experience managing a program of services; Strong people skills and experience working with diverse populations

Potential paths that could lead you here: Masters in Public Administration, Social Work, etc.; Years of non-profit management experience within an outreach department (such as marketing, public relations); Experience in managing a program of services (even if the non-profit was not responsible for coordinating).

Related for-profits jobs: Program Manager at an organization such as The United Way or Catholic Charities; Director of Marketing and Outreach at a company that provides services to nonprofit organizations

Director of Communications / Marketing Specialist

The Director of Communications / Marketing Specialist is responsible for creating, coordinating, and implementing all marketing plans. This position might spend time writing content for the website or blog; planning events that promote their organization’s mission, such as an annual gala or volunteer recognition event; developing social media strategies with followers across various networks including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc…

Skills needed: Experience in digital marketing (including social media); experience writing content for the website or blog; knowledge of photo editing software

Potential paths that could lead you here: Marketing Director at a non-profit organization with an established budget, history of events and fundraising success.

Related for-profit jobs: Corporate Communications Manager who oversees PR for a company or organization; Marketing Manager at an event-planning firm; For-profit Director of Marketing

Special Events Manager

The Special Events Manager is responsible for developing and executing the event-planning strategy. These events may have different goals and audiences, from raising awareness of an organization’s mission to fundraising and recruitment. The Special Events Manager may also be responsible for managing the budget allocated for these events

They will work with other departments to develop budgets, create timelines, oversee registration processes, manage invitations or RSVPs; etc., all in order to ensure that a nonprofit organization’s fundraising events are successful.

Skills needed: Experience coordinating large-scale events; Strong organizational skills

Potential paths that could lead you here: Experience managing a program of services related to outreach events, such as at The United Way or Catholic Charities. Previous experience working in event planning for the non-profit or for a project management firm. Related graduate degree (such as an MPA).

Related for-profit jobs: Corporate Events Manager at a company or organization; Event Planner for an event-planning firm.

Volunteer Coordinator / Director of Volunteers

The Volunteer Coordinator is responsible for recruiting and managing volunteers. This may involve creating volunteer positions, assessing individuals’ skills to match them with the appropriate opportunity or program; developing a training plan to ensure that people are qualified before they work on behalf of the nonprofit organization.

Skills needed: Experience in recruitment (such as at a college admissions office); Strong people skills; experience facilitating trainings for a group of volunteers

Potential paths that could lead you here: Previous volunteer coordinator position at another nonprofit organization or in the corporate world.

Related for-profit jobs: Volunteer Coordinator at an environmental non-profit, such as The Nature Conservancy (or similar); Corporate Recruiter who is responsible for hiring and training employees.

Related graduate degree: Non-profit Management (MPA)

Note: many of the skills needed to succeed in these roles are transferable from a for-profit environment, but may take some experience or additional education to be able to work in this sector exclusively.

Program Manager

The Program Manager is responsible for managing an organization’s program-specific objectives. These may include: fundraising, education and outreach, advocacy or any other specific programs that are set up to meet the mission of a nonprofit organization

Skills needed: Strong organizational skills; experience identifying goals and strategies to achieve those goals

Potential paths that could lead you here: Experience in program management for a non-profit, such as at The United Way or Catholic Charities. Previous experience working in marketing and communications-related roles within the nonprofit sector (such as Communications Director)

Related for-profit jobs: Senior Program Manager at a for-profit company; Marketing Director of an advertising agency.

Related graduate degree: Non-profit Management (MPA)

Technology Director

The Technology Director is responsible for overseeing the technology needs of a nonprofit organization. This person may be in charge of acquiring and implementing new technologies as well as maintaining existing systems; ensuring that all aspects related to information are secure, appropriately backed up and accessible

Skills needed: Strong computer skills (knowledge about hardware/software). Experience with software applications in the nonprofit sector, such as fundraising software

Potential paths that could lead you here: Previous experience with a for-profit technology company; Managing IT (Information Technology) Systems at an organization. Related graduate degree (such as an MPA).

Related for-profit jobs: CIO or CTO; Director of Information Security or Data Privacy at a large company; Director of IT at a small business.

Related graduate degree: Non-profit Management (MPA)

Foundations & Grants Writer

The Grants Writer is responsible for writing grant proposals and donor letters, as well as ensuring that all documentation related to grants meets the organization’s needs. This person may also be in charge of compiling evaluation reports or other documents.

Maintaining a grant funding and reporting calendar is an example of crucial details needing in this role.

Skills needed: Strong writing skills, with experience in grant proposal and donor letter writing

Potential paths that could lead you here: Previous work as a writer or editor for publications related to the nonprofit sector (such as working at The United Way)

Related for-profit jobs: Writer/Editor of articles for an environmental non-profit; Writer/Editor of articles for a magazine or newspaper

Related graduate degree: Non-profit Management (MPA)

Human Resources Director

The Human Resources Director is responsible for overseeing the human capital needs of a nonprofit organization. This person may be in charge of recruiting, hiring and training employees as well as administering benefits packages; ensuring that HR practices comply with federal and state regulations.

HR law in nonprofits is similar yet unique compared to the for-profit world. This is especially true of religious nonprofits.

Skills needed: Strong organizational skills; experience with HR-related roles in for-profit sector or other types of nonprofits.

Potential paths that could lead you here: Previous work as an HR manager at a company, or work within the nonprofit sector (such as Volunteer Coordinator)

Related for-profit jobs: Director of Human Resources at a company; HR Manager/Director for an international NGO. Related graduate degree: Non-profit Management (MPA)

Related graduate degree: Human Resource Management (MS in Hiring and Staffing), Employment Law, Labor Relations

Related certification: aPHR; SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP;

Board Member

The Board Member is responsible for guiding the organization’s strategy and overseeing management to make sure it aligns with the nonprofit mission. Nonprofit board members come from a variety of experiences and interests. This person may be a volunteer and/or have the title of Board Chair.

The skills needed to succeed in this role depend on what kind of board member you are: For-profit experience can help with understanding organizational strategy, but it is not necessary; strong leadership skills and fundraising expertise might also come in handy for some nonprofits

Potential paths that could lead you here: Previous experience as a Board Member at an organization, such as The United Way of Metro Atlanta or Mentoring Alliance.

Related graduate degree: Non-profit Management

Related for-profit jobs: Corporate Vice President; Business Development Manager in the financial sector.

Conclusion

This article has described the most common job titles and their responsibilities within a nonprofit organization. Each role’s skills or for-profit jobs to help someone succeed in the position have been listed along with potential paths that could lead you here, and related graduate degree(s).

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