A nonprofit can be anything from a small, two or three person operation to a vast and complicated international body with hundreds of staff members organizing projects and efforts around the globe.
Because of this, the variety of roles and responsibilities held by people working for nonprofits is vast.
If you’re looking to start a nonprofit or to grow one you’ve already set up, you’re probably wondering just what type of roles exist within other nonprofits. Thankfully, we’ve compiled a list of all nonprofit roles and responsibilities the majority of not-for-profit organizations are likely to have.
This list will help you decide what type of role your not-for-profit needs, what the role’s responsibilities are, and what the average nonprofit salary range for that role is.
Choosing the right nonprofit role can help you work towards achieving your organization’s goals. A Director of Major Gifts can help increase contribution amounts, a Director of Philanthropy can help source new donors, and a Chief Operations Officer or COO can help make sure more money can go towards the positive work you do.
Common nonprofit roles
This is a list of the most common roles found at nonprofits. We’ll break down some of these in more detail below.
- Board Member
- Executive Director
- Director of Philanthropy
- Aides Supervisor
- Community Service Project Coordinator
- Compliance Coordinator
- Financial Aid Representative
- Member Records Administrator
- Member Services Representative
- Membership Assistant
Health/Human Services roles
- Associate Pastor
- Case Manager
- Chemical Dependency Counselor
- Child Care Worker
- Child Life Specialist
- Child Support Case Officer
- Childbirth Educator
- Hospice Supervisor
- Housing Coordinator
- Housing Counselor
- Human Services Worker
- Juvenile Counselor
- Living Skills Advisor
- Managed Care Coordinator
- Medical Social Worker
- Policy Analyst
- Residential Living Assistant
- Social Worker
Human Resources roles
- Human Resources Officer
- Event Team Recruiter
- Job Developer
- Labor Union Organizer
- Team Leader
- Volunteer Coordinator
- Administrator for Nonprofit Organizations
- Advocacy Director
- Business Office Supervisor
- Campaign Manager
- Chemical Dependency Director
- Chief Association Executive
- Community Health Director
- Community Relations Director
- Compliance Director
- Corporate Giving Director
- Corporate Giving Manager
- Critical Care Director
- Development Director
- Development Manager
- Director of Family Shelter
- Director of Major Gifts
- Director of Special Initiatives
- Donor Relations Manager
- Executive Director of Nonprofit
- Financial Aid Director
- Foundation Director
- Fundraising Manager
- Grant Proposal Manager
- Housing Program Manager
- Major Gift Director
- Member Certification Manager
- Member Services Director
- Planned Gift Director
- Planned Giving Director
- Planning Manager
- Program Director
- Program Manager
- Program Officer for Foundation
- Project Manager
- Public Relations Manager
- Recreational Therapy Director
- Social Services Director
- Social Work Manager
- Special Events Director
- Support Services Director
- Teen Center Director
- Volunteer Director
- Volunteer Manager
- Volunteer Services Director
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What is a nonprofit board member?
As well as having a mixture of staff in roles from the list above, nonprofits should all have board members. In fact, the IRS typically requires that nonprofits have a minimum of three board members.
Board members are responsible for looking after the governance, strategy, and fiduciary duties of your non-profit. These individuals are usually experts in their fields and have experience in something that is related to your nonprofit’s mission.
Having a good combination of board members is something that can help increase the chances of your nonprofits’ success. Experienced board members help influence financial decisions, guide strategy for growth and marketing, and help hold key members of your nonprofit accountable.
Nonprofit board positions are different from employees of a nonprofit because they are nominated volunteers and only serve on the board for a specified amount of time. This amount of time is called a “term.” Terms usually range from 1 to 5 years, although they can be longer. Board members are also different from employees in that they don’t do any day-to-day work for the nonprofit. Instead, they help guide its running and make sure it is headed for success.
Nonprofit board members are typically volunteers who aren’t compensated with a salary. If your nonprofit has the funds, you may want to consider accommodating expenses associated with them attending board meetings, but otherwise the position of a nonprofit board member is unpaid.
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What is a Nonprofit Executive Director?
Similar to a Chief Executive Officer in a traditional company, a Nonprofit Executive Director is someone who oversees the work done by all of the departments within the nonprofit. Sitting at the top of the nonprofit hierarchy chart, this role requires working closely with the board, the Nonprofit Director, and the departmental heads to make sure the nonprofit is running correctly and making the right decisions.
Depending on the size of the nonprofit, the Executive Director is either someone who is involved at a high level, running through decisions that require high-level approval or someone who is involved closely with decisions being made on a daily basis.
The nonprofit Executive Director is responsible for making sure teams are managed properly and that the organization is running efficiently. To do this, the Executive Director may use nonprofit time tracking tools like Hubstaff to track and manage staff members. These tools help to give the Executive Director a global look at the organization so they can see at a glance where resources and time are being spent and where efficiencies can be made.
The average salary for a Nonprofit Executive Director is around $58,000.
What is a Nonprofit Director of Philanthropy?
The Nonprofit Director of Philanthropy manages all of the organization’s charitable giving. This role helps execute the mission statement and guides the nonprofit to achieve its charitable goals.
The Nonprofit Director of Philanthropy cultivates donors, helps develop outreach strategies, and oversees aspects of events and other elements that can be helpful for raising funds. The Nonprofit Director of Philanthropy helps to plan the budget and allocate funds to different areas, helps update staff on all areas of the mission, and helps raise the profile of the charitable giving.
The typical Nonprofit Director of Philanthropy’s salary is $72,219 a year.
Other key nonprofit roles and responsibilities
As well as these important and vital positions, nonprofits also have a large number of key roles and responsibilities that are undertaken by other members of staff. These are below:
The nonprofit administrator job description involves working closely with the nonprofit board members to keep them up-to-date with the latest developments, helping assist with marketing work and publicity, and taking an active roll in assisting the Director of Philanthropy with fundraising.
The typical Nonprofit Administrator salary is $51,000.
Nonprofit Project Coordinator
A nonprofit project coordinator job description involves helping to manage and oversee various projects happening inside the nonprofit. This person helps implement and stick to budgets and helps build community outreach.
The average Nonprofit Project Coordinator’s Salary is $41,000 a year.
Nonprofit Advocacy Director
The nonprofit advocacy director job description involves acting in the best interests of your organization to lobby and convince organizations or governmental bodies to implement things that will work to help your nonprofit’s mission. As the name suggests, a big part of this role involves advocating for the work you do.
The average Nonprofit Advocacy Director’s salary is $67,000 a year.
The nonprofit COO job description involves all aspects of organization management. This role is tasked with helping make sure the nonprofit runs properly, is efficient, and is able to complete its mission. This person works closely with the Nonprofit Director and Nonprofit Executive Director and reports to the nonprofit board members.
The average Nonprofit COO salary is $144,000 excluding compensation.
What is the importance of nonprofit job descriptions
Nonprofit job descriptions might sound like formalities but they can actually affect how much money you raise from donors.
Giving your staff creative fundraising titles may sound like a way to make your organization more interesting, but research shows that creative nonprofit job titles can actually harm the work you do.
Instead of creating interesting fundraising titles, the same research suggests the best fundraising job titles are those that are centered around “gift-giving.” These include: director of estate gift planning, director of trusts, estates, and gift planning, or other gift-focused titles.
It may seem silly, but having the right nonprofit position titles can go a long way to helping your team be taken more seriously and raise more in donations.
The worst nonprofit job titles involved positions like Chief Advancement Officer, Director of Institutional Advancement, and Chief Institutional Advancement Officer, so it’s probably wise to steer clear of those and stick to clear titles that immediately let people know what the roles are meant to accomplish.
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Roles of nonprofits and responsibilities: FAQ
Nonprofits are complicated entities that are focused on organizing goals and driving giving. At the same time, to be successful, they have to have a large hierarchy with a number of staff members and volunteers to be successful.
If you’re looking to start a nonprofit, you probably have some questions. Here are a series of common questions and answers to help you on your way.
Can family members be on a nonprofit board?
Family members can be on a nonprofit board but they can’t make up the majority of the board. The IRS requires that no more than 49% of board members be family members.
How many nonprofit board members do I need?
This varies between states but the average number is 3. To better understand how many board members your nonprofit needs, take a look here.
Can nonprofit members be under the age of 18?
The rules around this vary from state to state but many states prohibit board members from being under the age of 18. Do additional research into this if you are looking to have a board member under the age of 18.
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Get started hiring nonprofit staff
Now you have a good idea of what nonprofit job roles and responsibilities exist, it’s time for you to go ahead and hire individuals. There are a number of ways to do this, from networking, asking for referrals, or searching job sites for candidates or listing your own positions.
Job sites like LinkedIn or Hubstaff Talent can help you attract key and qualified candidates for your positions to help your nonprofit grow.
When hiring for your nonprofit, be sure to stick to the clear job description guidelines above and use the quoted salary ranges as a guide.
- Determine the Organization's Mission and Purpose. ...
- Select the Executive Director. ...
- Provide Proper Financial Oversight. ...
- Ensure Adequate Resources. ...
- Ensure Legal and Ethical Integrity and Maintain Accountability. ...
- Ensure Effective Organizational Planning.
- Human Resources.
- Accounting/Financial Management.
- Board of Directors/Governance.
- Training. Also included is a Bonus Section titled: How to Improve Your Nonprofit Operations in Under Two Months & 10 Nonprofit Operations Success Steps.
Executive director and chief executive officer (CEO) are leadership titles in organizations. Each is usually the highest-ranking position in the organization and the one responsible for making decisions to fulfill the mission and success of the organization.
Charity and Social Welfare
Many nonprofit groups exist to serve the public good, including providing healthcare, counseling and shelter. These organizations are tax-exempt due to the relief and assistance they provide, which in turn saves the government money.
Typical program areas may include fund-raising, operations, development, human resources, volunteer coordinator, marketing, or publicity and planning. The program heads report to the chief executive and may have any number of staff members under them.
A nonprofit organization is hierarchical in structure by fiat. Every nonprofit has a board of directors that is the ultimate responsible body for the organization. In the beginning of the nonprofit's existence it is common for the board members to wear different hats and function also in the staff capacity.
Elected by the board. Two or more offices may be held by the same individual, except the president may not also serve as secretary or treasurer.
A nonprofit can have a president/CEO and an executive director if the organization maintains a specific structure. For example: President/CEO who has full authority for operations.
- Board chair or board president.
- Board secretary.
- Board treasurer.
The IRS generally requires a minimum of three board members for every nonprofit, but does not dictate board term length. What is important to remember is that board service terms aren't intended to be perpetual, and are typically one to five years. Service terms must be outlined in the nonprofit bylaws.
A board of directors, also known as a nonprofit board, is the governing body of a nonprofit. The members of a nonprofit board focus on the high-level strategy, oversight, and accountability of the organization. This contrasts with employees or managers who oversee the day-to-day operations of the nonprofit.
IRS 557 provides details on the different categories of nonprofit organizations. Public charities, foundations, social advocacy groups, and trade organizations are common types of nonprofit organization.
- Recruit, supervise, retain, evaluate and compensate the manager. ...
- Provide direction for the organization. ...
- Establish a policy based governance system. ...
- Govern the organization and the relationship with the CEO.
Can the same person be the President, Secretary and Treasurer of a corporation? Yes. A single individual may simultaneously serve as President, Secretary and Treasurer. This is common in small corporations.
There Are Three Main Types of Charitable Organizations
Most organizations are eligible to become one of the three main categories, including public charities, private foundations and private operating foundations.
Today, there are over 1.6 million nonprofit organizations in the United States that are categorized into 27 different types of designations. Here is a general overview of each type of nonprofit organization: Social Advocacy Groups: Advocate or lobby for a certain social or political cause.
Difference Between 501c and 501c3
A 501(c) organization and a 501(c)3 organization are similar in designation, however they differ slightly in their tax benefits. Both types of organization are exempt from federal income tax, however a 501(c)3 may allow its donors to write off donations whereas a 501(c) does not.
Both refer to the highest-ranking executive of an organization or corporation, holding many of the same responsibilities. An observable difference, however, is that the title “Executive Director” is most commonly used in nonprofit organizations, while CEO is a well-known term for the head of a for-profit company.
If you asked a group of colleagues to name the leader of the organization, most would give a default answer: the CEO, executive director, chief executive or president of the board.
The average nonprofit CEO makes about $120,000 a year. Nonprofit CEOs may play an invaluable role in changing the world, but they still make less than their for-profit counterparts.
- Vice President or Chief Development/ Advancement Officer: Responsible for the asset development and donor services function of the foundation. ...
- Director of Donor Services/Donor Services Officer.
- Director of Gift Planning/Gift Planning Officer.
- Donor Services/Development/Advancement Assistant.
The nonprofit manager handles everything from structuring board meetings to creating a strategic plan for fundraising and securing adequate media exposure. Management is responsible for all aspects of an organization as well as ensuring that activities are being properly funded.
View Guide Contents. Nonprofit governance simply means how your nonprofit is administered. The key players in a nonprofit organization are the directors, officers, committees, members, executive director, staff and volunteers, and any existing advisory boards or friends groups.
What nonprofit leadership really is. By definition, a leader is someone in a position of authority with the responsibility to guide a group. They inspire people, they solve problems, and they build teams. They're responsible for planning, organizing, and directing a group so that goals are reached in a timely fashion.
Most people recognize that the vast majority of board members of charitable nonprofits are unpaid volunteers.
Does the President of a Nonprofit Get Paid? Although some nonprofit organizations may be led by volunteers—such as Bostic, who does not receive a salary for being a foundation president and CEO—many nonprofit presidents are compensated for their work as it is their full-time job.
The bottom line is that non-profit founders and employees are paid from the gross revenues of the organization. These salaries are considered part of the operating costs of the organization.
A job title is a specific designation of a post within an organization, normally associated with a job description that details the tasks and responsibilities that go with it.