Executive Director Vs President in a Non-Profit

Nonprofits need executive directors and presidents to be successful. Both executive positions have very different responsibilities. This article compares and contrasts the two jobs and adds some vital information.

Comparing Executive Directors to Presidents in a Nonprofit

Executive directors and presidents of nonprofits have very different responsibilities. An executive director at a nonprofit will be in charge of the daily running of the organization. The president is the overall leader and visionary of the organization's mission. A comparison can be found below of these two nonprofit positions.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary* (2017) Job Growth** (2014-2024)
Executive Director in a Nonprofit Bachelor's degree $64,057 6% (for all top executives)
President in a Nonprofit Master's degree $90,243 6% (for all top executives)

Sources: *Payscale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Executive Directors vs. Presidents in a Nonprofit

For a nonprofit, the executive director is basically the CEO of the organization. They answer to the board of directors and take responsibility for pushing the vision and direction of the organization's mission statement on the ground level. The president of a nonprofit collaborates closely with other board members and staff to establish the organization's mission and provides leadership with the team to meet the mission's goals. The executive director runs the day-to-day operations of a nonprofit, while the president runs board meetings, outlines the code of laws for an organization, and may sign contracts.

Executive Director in a Nonprofit

Nonprofits hire an executive director as a guide for the organization's operations. They manage day-to-day programs, finances, volunteer/community outreach services, and leadership training. They take charge of the training of staff, fundraising, websites and marketing. Executive directors are usually on call at all times and responsible to the board for all functions of the organization.

Job responsibilities of an executive director in a nonprofit include:

  • Supervise all general fundraising activities; handle grant applications and any outside funding
  • Direct and supervise staff members
  • Travel to meet and negotiate with possible donors
  • Responsible to the board for an organization's overall performance
  • Provide feedback to staff and board members

President in a Nonprofit

A nonprofit president works closely with the founder, board, and executive director to meet the financial expectations and fundraising needs of the organization. The president normally develops the agenda for and presides over board meetings. The president, under the guidance of the board, establishes strategies for the financial running of the nonprofit organization. They are in charge of seeing to it that money raised gets to programs as needed. A top priority is to make sure the flow of funds meets present needs. They also plan to raise future funding.

Job responsibilities of a president in a nonprofit include:

  • Oversees short-term and long-term financial goals
  • Directs and monitors staff
  • Works with agencies, foundations and major donors to develop branding and marketing strategies
  • Coordinates with staff and executives and offers feedback
  • Makes presentations to executives, donors or board members

Related Careers

The executive director and the president of a nonprofit are both leaders who guide organizations according to a common mission or goal. An executive director might find more payoff as a financial manager, helping companies or private organizations meet their financial goals. A nonprofit president might consider becoming a health services manager, coordinating health care and medical services for patients.

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