James Hunter once said that for a business to thrive, it must have healthy relationships with the "CEOS" of the organization - not the Chief Executive Officers, but rather the
While nonprofits differ from businesses, they still require strong relationships to survive. Executive directors (EDs) prioritizing each of these relationships find greater success for their nonprofit.
An executive director is constantly asking:
"Is this action, person, or decision serving our organization's greatest good and mission?"
The success of a nonprofit's mission largely rests on its shoulders. Versatility is needed as they must manage many demands and carry out different tasks on any given day. They're in a constant state of securing, maintaining, and improving. EDs are responsible for the following:
They're managing more than just the daily operations too. They're also a leader and spokesperson, developing strategic plans to tackle issues effectively and ensure all activities remain focused on achieving their mission.
Effective EDs will be able to work collaboratively with a board of directors and executive committee while also advocating for the organization in the local community and beyond. They need to understand public policy, current trends, and best practices in their sector. These best practices reinforce the power of connectedness, for instance:
A skilled executive director is more than just passionate about their work. They set the tone and culture for their organization, build relationships with stakeholders, and ensure proper financial management. They're committed to transparency, accountability, and trust.
An essential skill for an ED is the ability to maintain focus despite constant interruptions. EDs are constantly pulled in different directions, with staff, board members, and donors all vying for their attention. It's easy for them to become consumed by the details of their organization, which can hinder their ability to have a broader perspective and implement innovative ideas.
That's why keeping a high level of organization is crucial in this role. It allows EDs to streamline their daily work while maintaining efficiency, despite the constant demands on their attention. Having a structured system in place can help with:
This ensures that nothing important falls through the cracks and is especially helpful in staying on top of deadlines, which are critical in their fundraising efforts. Missing a grant deadline or failing to follow up with potential donors is costly. So, being organized prevents these kinds of errors.
It's challenging to manage competing demands and input from board members, but effective board governance is critical for nonprofit leaders. Board members help maintain:
Many members have full-time jobs outside of an organization, which means that while they may have input during board meetings, they may need help to carry out tasks outside of them.
In Boardsource's Leading With Intent Report, executives should evaluate board expectations and time allocation to ensure adequate board governance. The three areas that need more focus are:
The best way for executive directors to navigate their internal hierarchy is to:
If EDs can do this, they'll create strong partnerships and lead their organization to success.
Fundraising is a crucial skill that nonprofit executive directors must possess. Limited government funding, unstable income, and inaccurate budgeting issues can make it difficult for nonprofits to plan for future growth or maintain current operations. Without a visionary, strategic fundraising strategy, they will struggle to stay afloat and achieve their mission.
Strong fundraising skills help EDs secure resources for the nonprofit's operations. This involves working with donors, developing grant proposals, and creating campaigns to nurture the organization's current and potential supporters. At the core of these initiatives are relationships and visibility. Maintaining healthy relationships fuels the financial health of nonprofits. With accurate financial data to power these relationships, nonprofits can bolster their position.
With real-time access to their organization's financial health, EDs can create intuitive plans for tracking and achieving their goals.
The Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution offers an all-in-one solution with multifunctional capabilities that are as cross-functional as an executive director. By efficiently managing various relationships and completing daily tasks, ERPs provide EDs with the organizational oversight they need to succeed. This allows them to increase productivity, fulfill responsibilities, and maximize their time on high-value tasks. According to BDO, executive directors can mitigate risk for their organization by aligning and leveraging technology to enhance stakeholder relationships, a critical best practice in nonprofit management.
Take, for example, The Canadian Museum of History. This nonprofit needed to implement an integrated financial and HR solution. The museum faced inefficient workflows, a lack of integration, and difficulty tracking financial data. But with Sparkrock 365's robust technology, the museum streamlined its financial processes, automated HR functions, and gained real-time visibility into its financial data. With sound financial management, EDs are empowered to find more sustainable opportunities for their organization.
The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport struggled with manual data entry, lack of automation, and difficulty accessing real-time financial data. With Sparkrock's solution, the center was able to:
ERP solutions empower executive directors to make informed decisions for their nonprofits. Sparkrock 365 helps manage their focus, relationships, and fundraising efforts by offering a holistic view of their nonprofit operations. Real-time data enable directors to identify areas for improvement and allocate resources effectively. Understanding customer needs and preferences becomes easier through seamless integration with their customer relationship management system. And detailed fundraising reports enable executives to track progress and make targeted decisions for future programs.
To help plan your next technology investment, read the in-depth guide to our product, Sparkrock 365. Let us take you through the benefits of integrating HR management with finances, payroll, scheduling, and the key features we've built to help executive directors fulfill their nonprofit's mission.