Building Leadership

Executive Director (Small Organization)

Small organization, $0 to $3 million in revenues; Education

This sample job description shares how one smaller sized, growing, multi-site nonprofit organization configured the role of executive director. The executive director is responsible for general management as well as designing a national expansion plan. There also is a heavy emphasis on program evaluation. Feel free to use this sample job description in creating one for your organization.

Sample job description:

Position Description

XYZ Nonprofit
Executive Director


Founded in 1980, XYZ Nonprofit's mission is...

Revenues: $0 to $3 million

We do this by...

For more information, please visit


Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director (ED) will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for XYZ Nonprofit's staff, programs, expansion, and execution of its mission. S/he will initially develop deep knowledge of field, core programs, operations, and business plans.


Leadership & Management:

  • Ensure ongoing local programmatic excellence, rigorous program evaluation, and consistent quality of finance and administration, fundraising, communications, and systems; recommend timelines and resources needed to achieve the strategic goals
  • Actively engage and energize XYZ Nonprofit volunteers, board members, event committees, alumni, partnering organizations, and funders
  • Develop, maintain, and support a strong Board of Directors: serve as ex-officio of each committee, seek and build board involvement with strategic direction for both ongoing local operations as well as for the national rollout
  • Lead, coach, develop, and retain XYZ Nonprofit's high-performance senior management team Ensure effective systems to track scaling progress, and regularly evaluate program components, so as to measure successes that can be effectively communicated to the board, funders, and other constituents

Fundraising & Communications:

  • Expand local revenue generating and fundraising activities to support existing program operations and regional expansion while simultaneously retiring building debt
  • Deepen and refine all aspects of communications—from web presence to external relations with the goal of creating a stronger brand
  • Use external presence and relationships to garner new opportunities

Planning & New Business:

  • Design the national expansion and complete the strategic business planning process for the program expansion into new markets
  • Begin to build partnerships in new markets, establishing relationships with the funders, and political and community leaders at each expansion site
  • Be an external local and national presence that publishes and communicates program results with an emphasis on the successes of the local program as a model for regional and national replication


The ED will be thoroughly committed to XYZ Nonprofit's mission. All candidates should have proven leadership, coaching, and relationship management experience. Concrete demonstrable experience and other qualifications include:

  • Advanced degree, ideally an MBA, with at least 10 years of senior management experience; track record of effectively leading and regionally and/or nationally scaling a performance- and outcomes-based organization and staff; ability to point to specific examples of having developed and operationalized strategies that have taken an organization to the next stage of growth
  • Unwavering commitment to quality programs and data-driven program evaluation
  • Excellence in organizational management with the ability to coach staff, manage, and develop high-performance teams, set and achieve strategic objectives, and manage a budget
  • Past success working with a Board of Directors with the ability to cultivate existing board member relationships
  • Strong marketing, public relations, and fundraising experience with the ability to engage a wide range of stakeholders and cultures
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills; a persuasive and passionate communicator with excellent interpersonal and multidisciplinary project skills
  • Action-oriented, entrepreneurial, adaptable, and innovative approach to business planning
  • Ability to work effectively in collaboration with diverse groups of people
  • Passion, idealism, integrity, positive attitude, mission-driven, and self-directed

Sources Used For This Article:

Each sample job description is intended to be a jumping off point, and likely will need to be tailored to meet the particular needs of your organization. Feel free to use and tailor these descriptions for your hiring needs.

This work by The Bridgespan Group is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Bridgespan's Terms of Use page.


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Post a comment
Carole Matthews
Hi Mumba. I am glad the job description has been useful. We do not have an example executive director contract, but we do have an article on the website that describes the importance of an employment agreement for executive directors and outlines its key components. You can find the article here: I hope it is helpful.
8/1/2016 9:14:20 AM

Mumba Sata
Hello. Thank you for this self explanatory ED job description. I like the fact that it is not too long. I have been running a childhood cancer NGO. But without a job description for ED, as I am the Trustee and ED. We are now looking for a full-time paid ED and have come up with a job description which I feel is too long. With what you have compiled I can easily adapt it to ours and tailor it to our NGO and its specific needs in the environment in which we operate. Thank you very much. Greatly appreciated. Please do keep it up. Would you happen to have a sample of an ED contract that I can look at?
8/1/2016 8:40:52 AM

Angie V
Great help. Thank you.
2/1/2015 7:52:54 PM

Watuwa Nathan m
Nice information
Thanks for the update
11/13/2013 1:03:32 AM

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