So you want to lead a nonprofit. Maybe you’ve got a cause you really care about, and you’re ready to see a new nonprofit created. Maybe you’ve run programs, and you feel confident that you can lead a nonprofit now. Or maybe you’ve been in the corporate sector, and are ready to try the nonprofit world.
Anyone can lead a nonprofit, but what does it take to lead a nonprofit well?
Here’s my list, Part 1. Please feel free to comment with your ideas and amendments.
1. Ability to listen.
This is the most important. Let other people talk. You will find out many interesting things this way. And you will be a better leader because of it. (Look at Lord Vetinari in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. He’s a stellar example of this.)
2. Ability to motivate
You can try the stick, but the carrot is a better idea. You need to be able to infuse people with enthusiasm and persuade them to follow your cause. Ideally, you’ve got years of experience doing this with volunteers already.
3. Ability to tell the story of your nonprofit
You need to have your story down, and the stories of a board member, a volunteer and a person who has been helped by your nonprofit as well. You need to be able to pull out a tearjerker and a funny story in the same meeting.
4. Ability to be a servant leader.
You are entrusted with the leadership of this organization. So that means asking everyone how you can do a better job. They really want to help you.
5. Willingness to become the best fundraiser in the organization.
It’s funny, in a nonprofit, it seems to be an afterthought when a board chooses a leader that they should also be able to fundraise. It is your job to ask for major gifts. If you don’t know how, learn.
6. Ability to keep your word.
This means if you say, “We are going to have a meeting every week” with your staff members or board members, you keep your word.
Stay tuned for part two of leading a nonprofit on Monday!
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