DSAIA Digest: Are You Ready to Move Up to Executive Director?

Tue, July 07, 2015 10:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Are You Ready to Move Up to ED?

Becoming an executive director is a huge transition. To succeed, you must rely on your experiences, strengths, and expertise. In addition, you must learn new skills, engage in new behaviors, work well with other people, know your leadership style and be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest. Nonprofit executive leadership requires a lot. It is an all-encompassing job.

Join DSAIA for our upcoming webinar "Moving Up To Executive Director", presented by Joanne Oppelt, MHA, on Wednesday, July 15th, at 1 pm ET. Joanne is the Executive Director of CONTACT We Care.

Moving Up will help you:

  • Understand the complex nature of nonprofit executive leadership 
  • Identify the skills and characteristics of successful executive directors
  • Gain insight into the unique obligations nonprofit executive directors face
  • Manage multiple priorities
  • Prepare for the transition to your role as executive leader
  • Anticipate challenges inherent in your first year as executive director

    Register today! 

Good ED Interview Questions (& How To Answer Them)

A recent study reports that as many as two-thirds of nonprofit leaders will retire in the next 5 years! Joan Garry (nonprofit consultant and instructor) reminds us of this incredible tidbit of information in her latest blog post and has some great interview tips for those coming from the corporate world into positions with nonprofits (or for those already here). Here are the highlights from the article:

1. Tell us about your previous nonprofit experience. 
How do you perceive the differences in the sectors?This is really important. You need to have played in the nonprofit sandbox in 
someway. I’m hoping you have volunteered, been involved in a PTA, or in your house of worship. Consider the differences between that and your corporate job.If you haven’t done any of those things, as a member of the search committee, I am going to be very skeptical indeed.

2. What is your previous fundraising experience? 
Unless you have done some real nonprofit fundraising, you might need to be creative. Talk about attributes. “I have what it takes to ask for money because I understand that it’s about building and cultivating relationships and matching individuals with the cause. I am a quick study and my passion for this work trumps any anxiety about asking. And truthfully, I understand that money = programs so my anxiety level here is very low.”

3. Why are you passionate about THIS organization and THIS mission?  
You have got to make this case. You can’t just be a fabulous PR executive that wants to do external relations and make a difference. You have to make the case that there’s a specific connection between you and the organization.

Read all 10 questions/answers on Joan Garry'blog.

Joan Garry is a nonprofit consultant who works with nonprofit leaders, assisting with crisis management, executive coaching and the building of strong management teams to support the work of the CEO. She also teaches nonprofit media strategy as a professor at the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a blogger for The Huffington Post

Resources for the ED (& Those Hiring One)

The DSAIA Resource Library and Webinar Archive includes many resources/trainings on hiring and managing top level staff. Below you'll find a list of a few of the many resources.

Webinars & Conference Presentations:

  • Adding Top Level Staff
  • How To Lose an Executive Director
  • Attract, Build and Retain Terrific Staff
  • Hiring, Supervising a High Performance Management Team
  • We Are Hiring Staff (How Do We Make Sure We're in Compliance?)
  • Hiring First Time Staff:  Opportunities & Challenges

Resource Library Documents:

  • Accountability & Reporting Chart
  • Board Chair & Executive Director Partnership Chart
  • Employee Handbook/Manual
  • Employee Agreements/Contracts
  • Executive Director Job Descriptions
  • Employee Goal Setting & Evaluations

Members can access resources at their convenience. Not a member? Learn more about the benefits by scheduling a free orientation with DSAIA staff and board members. 

I want to tell you what WONDERFUL time I had at the conference. I learned so much and came away with lots of ideas for our organization. -Barb Waddle, The Upside of Downs of Northeast Ohio


Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action started as a conference bringing together outstanding leadership from Down syndrome organizations around the country. Learn More

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