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Top 4 Challenges for Non Profit Executive Directors & How to Overcome Them

Updated: Aug 28


Leading a non profit organization is no easy task. While our society would be deeply wounded by the loss of non profit services and support, it is also important to find a healthy and sustainable way to stay at the helm of your organization. Here are a few common challenges that Executive Directors face:


1) More tasks than time. This is ALWAYS the case with upper management positions, as the position forces you to pivot from providing services directly, to effectively managing and fiscally supporting other people and systems that provide those services. This can be especially challenging for ED’s that have been promoted up through the ranks of the organization.

a. Delegate, delegate, delegate. It is impossible for you to do everything yourself, and you would be doing your role and your agency a disservice if you try.

b. Enlist additional administrative support, if needed. Zirtual can help with this: https://www.zirtual.com/

c. TRUST is a big factor for Teams, and especially for Delegating. Ensure that your Team is well-trained, by having a Training & Development plan in place for all roles.


2) Communication with the Board. Running a non profit requires a joint and complimentary leadership strategy between the ED and the Board.

a. Review your monthly ED Board Report format with the Board. What information do they not need to know? What information would they like to learn more about, and how often do they want to be informed in these matters? Clarify communication expectations, and format your monthly report to capture those.

b. Ensure that there is a repository of knowledge for BOD members to easily access, either through Boardable, Google Drive, Dropbox, or some other type of efficient online portal.

c. Create a BOD manual, and keep it updated for easy reference for new and experienced BOD members.


3) Getting pulled into Programs & Services. This is very closely connected to #1. In your role, it is imperative that you are able to ascend to the 30,000 ft level on a pretty frequent basis. Otherwise, instead of you leading the organization, it will begin to lead you!!

a. Block out time in your weekly schedule just to think. Even something as short as 20- 30 minutes will work wonders for you, and for your organization.

b. Equip and empower your mid- level managers. This is typically the most under resourced and under supported section on the org chart, but it is also the catalyst to either organizational health or deterioration. The health of your organization rests in their hands…


4) Staffing Challenges. As a non profit Executive, it is safe to say that you will spend approximately 30% of your time dealing with staff issues and concerns. However, this percentage can grow exponentially, if you are also missing the following:

a. Support your HR department. Be sure to hire capable and well-balanced individuals into this role, as this will save you a lot of time and stress.

b. Ensure that you have firm systems and accountability points in place for your On-boarding, Training, Evaluation, and Disciplinary processes. Any gray areas here just create larger problems down the line.


Here at Pure Momentum Consulting, LLC we can help you in these areas, and many more 😊

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