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Hiring an executive director is one of the most important actions that the governing board of a nonprofit
agency takes. The board depends on its director for day-to-day operation to achieve the agency’s purposes and objectives within the constraints of its budget—not an easy task to accomplish year in and year out. Also, the working relationship between the director and the board, the staff, volunteers, clients, funding organizations, and other service agencies can significantly influence the agency’s effectiveness and reputation in the community. This article suggests a process designed to help ensure that, in selecting its next director, a board will meet its own needs and those of its constituencies. We have used and refined the process over more than ten years of assisting local elected and appointed government and nonprofit boards. It should be equally applicable whether a board is hiring its first director or it is replacing one who has resigned or been fired. If a clearly agreed on successor already is working for the organization, the board might want to proceed directly to negotiations with and appointment of him or her. However, even in such a case, the board may want to use part or all of the process that we suggest in order to be certain that it has given this important choice the most careful deliberation. To illuminate our description of the process with real examples, we include materials used in the Orange County Rape Crisis Center’s recruitment of a new director in 1999. Whether the board conducts the hiring process itself or secures outside assistance, it might use the steps described in
this article as a framework for planning and arranging its search and as a checklist for ensuring that it has completed all
the essential tasks.

Cite as:

“Hiring a Director for a Small Community-Based Nonprofit Agency: A Step-by-Step Guide,” by Margaret F. Henderson and Kurt Jenne, Summer 2000, Popular Government.

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Margaret Henderson
Public Sector Relationships