Competencies in non-profit organization leadership

manager leader

Running a nonprofit organization is harder than running a for-profit organization. This is because these leaders are faced with a tough choice daily. A single mistake can cost the organization a great, especially from funders. As such, it is critical to pinpoint exactly what makes a great leader before choosing or becoming one. Anyone, but not everyone can make a great leader. And we can know one when we see one.

Leadership skills are vital in every sector of life. However, in the realm of nonprofit organizations, additional commitment, passion, and dedication are required. Nonprofits do not have specific sources of funding. They mostly rely on volunteers and well-wishers to fund their projects. Therefore, it is the task of the organization leader to galvanize volunteers and key employees for the growth of the organization. A visionary leader can grow energy and optimism in his/her group to achieve faster and more impactful growth.

A manager vs. a leader

Many people around the world use the terms management and leadership to mean the same thing. However, you will realize that they are two very different things.

A manager has the primary duty of supervising members of a team and holding accountability. He/she has the official authority to see that day-to-day activities of the organization are to the latter. Skills such a staffing, scheduling, appraisal, and creating processes are crucial for a manager.

On the other hand, leadership is more like an art. A leader is not static with a specified routine but creates new ways through every challenge. A leader creates a vision for the organization and gets everyone involved in its implementation. Instead of managing, leaders do things and let others follow. They offer guidance wherever possible, ensuring that everyone is following the progress of the organization.

Leadership can be anywhere. For many people, a leader is only someone in a high ranking position. You ask them who their leader is, and they will only mention them CEO, Executive director, or the president of the board. They forget that the event that entry-level coordinator in the company has a significant role to play. They may not have the authority to make a significant call, but there is something about them that makes them leaders. Recognize, for instance, their sense of confidence and purpose. You can see a different kind of authority. That is what we call leadership in action.

Qualities in nonprofit leadership

For a profit organization, being a leader may mean a fancy title, or and a corner office. But such things do not automatically capture the respect and admiration of a team. There are specific traits or true leaderships that are much harder to find. Whereas one can be a boss and command people around, getting people to follow you are very different things.

In a nonprofit organization, a leader deals with people of all kinds. There are volunteers, and there are full-time workers who all work together for the success of the organization. It is the leader who creates the cohesion. To do this, they need some talents and skills that characterize them as effective leaders. Here are some of the attributes they possess.

Ability to make big waves from limited resources

The nonprofit world posses a great challenge, especially in terms of funding. They do not have customers who pay for the value or possibilities of getting bank loans to fund their projects. The best leaders in this sector are innovative, resourceful, and cannot be easily intimidated by challenges that come their way. Being a leader in this sector means making sacrifices that benefit the organization more than the individual.

The take on a crisis

For nonprofit to prosper and get funders, public image is crucial. The leader must, therefore, ensure people view the organization as a positive force to the development of a society. This is why leaders are first on the spot when the public image of the organization is under threat. Effective leaders do no panic at this instance. The come up clearly, seeking advice from different people to understand the situation and rectify anything that may have gone wrong. They will be fast to develop an action plan that makes sense.

They are knowledgeable and experienced

One of the significant roles or nonprofit leaders involves setting fundraisers, negotiating contracts, and managing complex budgets. Nonprofits organizations only survive where a definite financial structure is evident, and they proper on long term budgets. Being a leader in such a setting is not easy. One must have a strong network of contacts in the community and know when to call on them. Apart from experience, leaders must possess knowledge of the ins and outs of working with the board of directors as well as harnessing the skills and resources of other members.

They can attract people

To be an effective leader in nonprofit settings, one has to be like a shepherd – to bring people in. This means such a person has to be loveable and easy going. They must possess excellent communication skills and knowledge that easily convince people to follow. A leader in this sector must be able to identify and convince an influential donor to join their course. It is only possible if the person is attractive.

They have excellent intrapersonal skills

People differ in many ways, majorly on emotional lines. Therefore, a leader is someone who understands people individually from their perspectives. A CEO will look at your papers and see what they want to see, but they don’t pay attention to what makes one a great person. In a nonprofit, a leader is supposed to see people as they are and what they can do.

A great communicator

Effective communication involves three aspects, the messenger, the mediummanager leader, and the recipient. A good leader must know the role of each element to give appropriate direction. They listen effectively when supposed to and speak what makes sense to others. A good collaborates with others and find their opinions useful always.

Leadership for nonprofits is more of a call than a profession. It takes a lot of energy and patience to be one. They define the success of the organization and stay until it is accomplished. Inspired leaders take organizations to the next level and ensure others come with them. The skills mentioned above summarize what it takes to be such a person.


1050 Words


Apr 09, 2020


3 Pages

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