January 15, 2016

Sample Job Description: 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.

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.

Feel free to use and modify this sample job description to help you create one for your organization.

Sample Position Description

XYZ Nonprofit
Chief Operating Officer


Founded in 1987, XYZ Nonprofit’s mission is...
We do this by...

For more information, please visit www.XYZnonprofit.org


ABC Nonprofit has been growing steadily and is now seeking to dramatically accelerate growth. The board and executive director (ED) are looking for a mission-focused, seasoned, strategic, and process-minded leader with experience scaling an organization, leading an executive management team, and developing a performance culture among a group of diverse, talented individuals. The COO must be a leader who is able to help others at ABC deliver measurable, cost-effective results that make the vision a reality. Importantly, the successful COO will have the skills, sensitivity, and personal confidence to tap into the power that each member of the team brings to this mission. While it is essential that the COO bring efficient and effective systems to increase the productivity of the organization, is it also critical that the team retain the creative spark that drives the ABC concept.


Reporting to the Founder and ED of ABC Nonprofit, the COO will lead all internal operations and will have the following responsibilities:

  • Working in partnership with the Founder and ED, create the strategic five-year plan and implement new processes and approaches to achieve it
  • Serve as the internal leader of the organization:
    • Coordinate the annual operations plan and budget
    • Lead the performance management process that measures and evaluates progress against goals for the organization
    • Provide for all staff a strong day-to-day leadership presence; bridge national and regional operations and support an open-door policy among all staff
  • Lead and manage the organization’s vice presidents, who have the following responsibilities:
    • Site Development
      • Raise local funds
      • Build local fund raising and sales infrastructures within local offices
      • Generate sufficient local revenue to cover local costs
      • Increase fee-for-service contracts
      • Identify geographic growth opportunities and priorities
      • Communicate the branded message internally and externally
    • Program
      • Increase key impact measurements
      • Ensure that all programmatic partners renew their contracts
      • Develop curriculum, tools, and training that meet cost guidelines
    • Finance, Technology, and Human Resources
      • Produce and implement a Balanced Scorecard metric throughout the organization
      • Cultivate the values of ABC within the organization
      • Instill a human capital development and “coaching” culture within ABC; upgrade human resources functions including: training, development, compensation and benefits, employee relations, performance evaluation and recruiting
      • Develop an accounting system that provides the organization with quick access to financial information and enables strategic budgeting
      • Analyze the current technology infrastructure and scope out the next level of information technology and financial systems that support the growth of specific programs and the organization overall
    • Fund Raising—function reports to ED; dotted-line reporting to COO on:
      • Budgeting
      • Development and implementation of systems for reporting, measurement and supporting local revenue generation
      • Administrative aspects including proposal preparation and granting writing
  • Work with the national board of directors: present to the board at quarterly meetings and serve on several board committees

Key Qualifications

As a prerequisite, the successful candidate must believe in the core values of ABC and be driven by the mission. The candidate should demonstrate a passion for breaking new ground to lead social change. Beyond that, we are seeking a candidate that has proven experience in scaling a multi-site organization and a demonstrated ability to both lead and build the capabilities of a driven, bright, diverse team.

The successful candidate will most likely have had management experience with a for-profit organization. As noted, this is an organization driven by the values of its people, so experience in managing a “values-driven” organization will be highly prized. Additional requirements are:

  • Results-proven track record of exceeding goals and a bottom-line orientation; evidence of the ability to consistently make good decisions through a combination of analysis, wisdom, experience, and judgment; high level of business acumen including successful P&L management; the ability to balance the delivery of programs against the realities of a budget; and problem solving, project management, and creative resourcefulness
  • Strategic Vision and Agility-ability to think strategically, anticipate future consequences and trends, and incorporate them into the organizational plan
  • Capacity Building—ability to effectively build organization and staff capacity, developing a top-notch workforce and the processes that ensure the organization runs smoothly
  • Leadership and Organization-exceptional capacity for managing and leading people; a team builder who has experience in scaling up organizations; ability to connect staff both on an individual level and in large groups; capacity to enforce accountability, develop and empower top-notch leaders from the bottom up, lead from the top down, cultivate entrepreneurship, and learn the strengths and weaknesses of the team so as to put people in a position to succeed
  • Action Oriented—enjoys working hard and looks for challenges; able to act and react as necessary, even if limited information is available; not afraid to take charge of a situation; can overcome resistance to leadership and take unpopular stands when necessary
  • General Management—thorough understanding of finance, systems, and HR; broad experience with the full range of business functions and systems, including strategic development and planning, budgeting, business analysis, finance, information systems, human resources, and marketing
  • Solid educational background—undergraduate degree required; MBA or similar advanced degree highly desired


This is an outstanding opportunity for a highly motivated professional to assume a pivotal role in the evolution of a fast-growing, highly respected organization. We are seeking an individual of outstanding quality with a respected track record. ABC is prepared to offer a very attractive compensation package, including a competitive base salary as well as health, 401(k), and vacation benefits.

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