Nonprofit Network Blog

Can You Spot a Great Nonprofit Leader?

Thursday, August 25, 2016 2:00 PM | Katena Cain (Administrator)

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A great nonprofit leader drives a sense of mission down through the organization, upward through the board, and outward through the community.  She is also the organization’s chief storyteller, brand advocate, brand guardian, crisis spokesperson, chief marketing officer, and chief fundraiser. To be effective in these roles, she must be authentic and be able to connect, collaborate, persuade, mediate, and negotiate with the best.


A great leader is also the ambassador for the health of the organization, both structurally and financially. This means she is responsible for building and maintaining relationships that enable the organization to flourish. She must recruit and retain the talent and supply the tools necessary to develop a strong infrastructure and a culture that builds morale.


A great leader is "tapped in" to her board, staff, and the people she serves.  She’s in tune with the social and economic conditions that affect the organization’s mission. 


Faced with funding shortfalls, increased demand for services, and donors seeking demonstrated results for their dollars, today’s leader must be a master at adapting, recognizing challenges to be overcome, and seizing opportunities as they arise.


Most of all, a great leader leads. Everyone around her should understand where they are headed and why. Ideally, they will live for it. If it seems like something is not working, she resists the urge to blame. She will, instead, explore the motivations and interests of employees, volunteers, and board members to get some insights into what’s driving people toward (or away from) the organization’s mission.  



At Nonprofit Network, our mission is to strengthen nonprofit governance and management.  Feel free to reach out to me to build your capacity.



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