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How to Develop Better Nonprofit Leadership - 5 Skills Every Leader should Possess

The nonprofit industry, like all others in the wake of the digital revolution, is evolving rapidly. Skills and innate traits that nonprofit leaders used to possess might still be relevant, but they are not what the board is looking for. Nowadays, it’s all about being an inspiring figure by nature, and a born business man.

After all, you should look at a nonprofit as you would any company in need of various types of resources, a steady influx of clients, and a compelling brand identity. Its leader, naturally, should be the person that will help the organization meet its goals, grow over time, and pave the road to a successful future. Here are the five skills every nonprofit leader should possess in the modern marketplace.



Be a visionary thinker

First and foremost, a leadership title should not be confused with a boss title. These have two very different job descriptions. The former will be responsible for devising and effectuating the nonprofit’s long-term vision and goals, while the latter will work directly under to make sure the adequate tactics are in place.

Therefore, the leader needs to be a visionary thinker who will have a set of concrete long-term goals for the organization. In the past, organizational structures would have put the task of defining a vision for the nonprofit into the hands of the board, but nowadays, boards are increasingly expecting of their executives to come forward with a sound vision and a concrete plan. You will, therefore, need to motivate, inspire, and persuade experienced board members to follow your vision.



Have the ability to build a brand

In the modern business world, a company without a brand is just another name in the competitive marketplace that will fail to reach its true potential. The modern consumer needs and wants to do business with a company that portrays a certain set of values, a company they can relate to on a deeper, personal level. You need to be able to build a powerful brand identity.

Chief Branding Officers (CBOs) are instrumental figures in the creation and execution of a strong branding strategy that will capture the attention of the consumer market, inspire them to take action, and aid your cause. To achieve these goals, your brand will need to have an appealing, modern visual identity, it will have to have a set of values portrayed by a comprehensive content marketing strategy, and it will have to have a strong online presence. Remember, brand dissemination is your gateway to the global marketplace, and a means to a solvent future.



Have Knowledge of business and personal finances

Finance management is one of the most important skills a leader of a nonprofit organization should have. For better or worse, every nonprofit will share some common points with traditional commercial businesses, such as the need to secure operating capital. This is why you as a leader need to be on top of personal and business finances at all times.

The problem with running a nonprofit is that leaders oftentimes resort to using their personal finances to kick-start a marketing campaign or bring in new staff members. As a true leader, you might feel inclined to do it, but not at the cost of your own livelihood. That’s why it’s essential to have personal loans as financing option in mind during those early stages of financing your nonprofit, in order to preserve your personal operating capital.

Focus on establishing a stable financial structure with fundraising, grants, and trading, in order to create a comprehensive financial structure for the organization. Keep in mind though, that effectuating these strategies will require an initial investment capital.



Be an inspiring figure

Being an inspiring leader and building a compelling personality takes time, effort, and plenty of practice. This is a mixture of long-term experience in the game, practicing your soft skills in a myriad of different situations, and having the professional knowledge to back your appealing persona up with credibility and a viable business plan.

Portraying an inspirational figure to the board and the market will be crucial for getting people to side with you and your organization, incentivize them to support your cause, and spread the word of your good deeds to the rest of the world. Practice your soft skills, and back them up with concrete knowledge of the industry, as well as finance and growth management.


Have a knack for entrepreneurship

We live in an entrepreneurial world, and nowadays leaders in the nonprofit sector are required to show their ability to lead a “company” forward no matter the economic climate, or the prevailing trends in the market. As a leader with a distinct entrepreneurial spirit, it will be your duty to secure long-term financing for your nonprofit through partnerships and investments, and show the world how much good your organization is doing through effective PR, annual and biannual reports, and meticulous stakeholder management.


In the nonprofit arena, the organization’s leader can make all the difference. With sound leadership and careful implementation of these five traits, you should have no problem building and leading a successful nonprofit organization that will echo throughout the industry.



Page last edited Nov 26, 2018 History

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