With constant turnover in leadership in the nonprofit sector, most Board volunteers will eventually be involved in an ED search. Be aware, this is not the same as a search at a for-profit for many reasons.
Let’s start with passion. You can happily work for a company that makes widgets or provides a commodity service without having passion enter the equation. Most of America does just this. But, in the nonprofit sector, the leadership has to embody the emotion and passion for the cause because the employee base is looking for an alternative career path. And, donors won’t underwrite an organization if they don’t feel the leadership is a great steward for their underwriting. And, it is critical that stakeholders know the leadership is driven to make a difference.
I’m not advocating hiring someone who is only mission-driven. Without the expertise in how to run a business, raise money, motivate staff, and collaborate with a Board, passion runs out of fuel very quickly.
So, when interviewing, looking beyond the simple checklist of skills, and also focus on passion and leadership. Skills are necessary but absolutely not sufficient for running a nonprofit. Without the passion for the cause, you may find yourself back in the market for new leadership sooner rather than later!