Hiring a Director for a Nonprofit Agency: A Step-by-Step Guide

By Kurt J. Jenne and Margaret Henderson
Chapel Hill, NC (Summer 2000)- 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.
In hiring an executive director, many steps need to be taken. First the board should determine the future needs of the agency and develop a profile of the ideal candidate. In doing this, the board should list the demands of the job, assets of an ideal director, and decide on a salary range. The board then needs to plan their hiring strategy and begin to recruit applicants. The board should make interim arrangements for the agency’s management, decide how to involve the staff, agree on a hiring process, and begin to advertise for the position. Next, the board must screen the applicants and choose which ones to interview. The board must plant an assessment process and design and conduct interview. Lastly, the board must hire a director, draft an employment agreement, set clear expectations, and plan for a formal evaluation.
Related Resources:
Hiring a Director for a Nonprofit Agency: A Step-by-Step Guide