Being a leader in the nonprofit industry is challenging and rewarding. It’s not just about managing a team, it’s also about being a decision-maker, being strategic and inspiring others. Leaders need to have many positive traits, but because of the unique challenges that accompany the nonprofit industry, nonprofit leaders need to have qualities to match those needs.
Here are some of the top traits that a nonprofit leader should have to cultivate successful, inspired fundraisers.
- They’re adaptable: Change happens in the blink of an eye in the nonprofit industry, so leaders need to be able to change course in an instant and adapt to new challenges and situations when things come up either within the organization or outside of it.
- They step up in a crisis: Whether it’s a global pandemic or a natural disaster, the strongest nonprofit leaders will lead their teams with confidence in a crisis and have a plan in place to make sure that their teams are safe, and that the organization can recover.
- They’re agile: Agile leaders make sure that they make sure that they have the tools in place to help employees be more effective and productive. This means evaluating technology solutions and making organizational changes to drive success and improve the culture of the nonprofit.
- They motivate their talent: Motivation needs to come from the top, and the most effective leaders make sure that they are motivating from the top down, including managers, associates, fundraisers and volunteers. Teams will appreciate motivating remarks and activities that come from top leadership, and it will also fuel a sense of camaraderie and connectedness.
- They’re world-class problem solvers: When problems arise, it’s up to leadership to solve it. Best-in-class nonprofit leaders are the first to step up and find solutions to problems as they come up and to give managers the tools to prevent those problems from coming up again in the future.
- They’re empathetic: Nonprofit leaders must be passionate about their organization’s mission, and with that comes a level of empathy for the people who work for them and the people they serve. Empathetic leaders will always have their teams and their constituents in mind.
- They’re strategic: Nonprofits often run on limited budgets, so it’s important that nonprofit leaders are strategic in their business decisions, how they manage budgets and which tools they employ to help teams fundraise more effectively.
- They know how to deal with conflict: Conflict mitigation is key for nonprofit leaders. They need to know how to manage a multitude of personalities, attitudes and work styles and tame conflict as it comes up in the organization in a way that is fair and equitable.
- They’re self-starters: Being a nonprofit leader is like being an entrepreneur. They need to be able to understand team building, employee engagement, finances, management, etc. And if they don’t, it’s important that they identify resources to learn how to improve in those areas.
- They’re good speakers and good listeners: Being in leadership isn’t just about going up to a podium once a month, it’s also about leaving your door open for other people to talk to you. Motivation comes in various forms, from speaking to teams to listening to complaints, problems and suggestions.
What are some of the traits that your nonprofit’s leadership has that you admire?