Chief Operating Officer Job Descriptions

COO roles—and the organizational structures in which COOs operate—are highly varied across organizations and even within organizations over time. The way a COO’s responsibilities are defined differs significantly depending on the organization’s strategic imperatives, design, history, and culture, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the executive director, COO, and other key leaders. Nevertheless, most COO positions can be categorized under one of four basic models, and the sample job descriptions posted here correspond to these  models.

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 needs.

Chief Operating Officer (Operations/Administration)

In this sample job description, the COO oversees the functions that support the programs but do not relate directly to program participants, and other senior managers are responsible for the programs themselves.

Chief Operating Officer (Generalist)

This sample job description is for the generalist nonprofit chief operating officer who oversees all internal functions. This nonprofit COO oversees everything internal, freeing up the ED to focus on external matters such as fundraising, public relations, and partnerships.

Chief Operating Officer (Program-Focused)

This sample job description is an illustration of a program focused chief operating officer. In contrast to the operations/administrative-focused nonprofit chief operating officer, some COOs are responsible primarily for programs, while the ED, the chief financial officer, or another senior executive oversees the more administrative functions.

Chief Operating Officer (Strategy/Operations)

The COO role described in this sample job description has overall strategic and operational responsibility for all programs. In addition, the individual in this role also manages a group of program directors and work with the nonprofit's board of directors to keep them abreast of programmatic changes.

Deputy Director

This job description is the broadest of the COO-track positions: the role oversees everything internal, freeing up the executive director to focus on external matters such as fundraising, public relations, and partnerships.