January 15, 2016

Sample Job Description: Chief Operating Officer (Strategy/Operations)

The chief operating officer  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.

The chief operation officer (COO) role described in this 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.

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

Sample Position Description

Reporting to the executive director (ED), the Chief Operating Officer (COO) will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for all XYZ Nonprofit programs and will manage a group of program directors. As the chief program officer of XYZ Nonprofit, she or he will provide leadership to the XYZ Nonprofit strategic planning process and will implement new programmatic strategic initiatives. In addition, the COO will: provide coordination for the XYZ Nonprofit senior management team; serve as liaison to XYZ Nonprofit’s partners; and work with XYZ Nonprofit’s Board of Directors to keep them abreast of programmatic strategies and challenges.

The COO will partner with the ED and her/his peers (the chief financial officer (CFO), director of development, and director of human resources) and will be responsible for developing, implementing, and managing the operational aspects of the annual budget. Finally, the COO will cultivate existing relationships with public and private funders.


Program Operational Leadership:

  • Provide effective and inspiring leadership by being actively involved in all programs and services, developing a broad and deep knowledge of all programs.
  • Identify opportunities for XYZ Nonprofit to leverage cross-program strengths to take advantage of new opportunities and/or to address organizational challenges.
  • Lead, coach, develop, and retain XYZ Nonprofit’s high-performance senior management team with an emphasis on developing capacity in strategic analysis and planning and program budgeting.
  • Develop and implement training programs and retreats to expand the capacity of all staff.
  • Prepare and submit an annual operational budget, manage effectively within this budget, and report accurately on progress made and challenges encountered.
  • Ensure the continued financial viability of XYZ Nonprofit’s operational units through sound fiscal management.

External Relationship Development:

  • Manage and cultivate existing relationships with funders to secure and expand recurring revenue streams.
  • Publicly represent XYZ Nonprofit with the media and external constituency groups including community, governmental, and private organizations and build excitement for XYZ Nonprofit’s mission.

Strategic Plan Implementation:

  • Provide programmatic leadership and input for all strategic plan implementation processes with the ED and staff. Coach program directors as they implement the strategic plan and transition program operations.
  • Develop and implement a system for tracking and reporting on the progress of the strategic plan implementation.


This is an extraordinary opportunity for an individual with extensive program management experience to grow and further develop a proven program that has already made significant impact. The successful candidate will partner with the ED and work collaboratively with a high-performance management team.

Specific requirements include:

  • Minimum BS/BA degree with at least 10 years of experience and a track record in senior program management.
  • Excellence in organizational management with the ability to coach a senior-level staff to manage and develop high-performance teams and develop and implement program strategies.
  • Deep experience in program budgeting and fiscal management.
  • Track record of effectively leading a direct service organize with a complex array of programs with the ability to leverage strengths across program areas; excellent project management skills.
  • Analytic and decisive decision maker with the ability to prioritize and communicate to staff key objectives and tactics necessary to achieve organizational goals.
  • Ability to point to specific examples of having led organizational transformation projects and program development.
  • Past experience managing human resources function including personnel, compensation, and recruiting.
  • Unwavering commitment to quality programs and data-driven program evaluation.
  • 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 public speaking skills.
  • Action-oriented, entrepreneurial, flexible, and innovative approach to operational management.
  • Passion, humility, integrity, positive attitude, mission-driven, and self-directed.

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