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New Executive Director Tool Kit

a primer for those new to the nonprofit world

Congratulations on your new role as Executive Director! 

There is a lot to learn as a first-time nonprofit Executive Director. We hope you’ll find this tool kit helpful in the first weeks and months. While this tool kit won’t teach you everything you need to know, and certainly should not be considered legal advice, it is a very good place to start. 

Not a new Executive Director? That’s okay, use this tool kit as a refresher!

Read the entire 72-page kit or scroll to view individual articles!

Section 1: Essential Documents

In your first few weeks as the Executive Director you should locate, review, take notes on, and ask questions about the primary documents associated with your nonprofit. Resist the temptation to jump into your job without doing the necessary groundwork of learning about your organization’s history and current state of affairs.

  • Action Step #1: Find Essential Documents (.pdf)
  • Action Step #2: Review Essential Documents (.pdf)
  • Action Step #3: Create Essential Documents Calendar (.pdf – includes Steps 3-5)
  • Action Step #4: Consider Essential Document Updates
  • Action Step #5: File Essential Documents

Section 2: Roles, Responsibilities, Relationships

Entire books, websites, and degree programs are dedicated to educating individuals about nonprofit roles, responsibilities, and relationships. This tool kit is simply a primer and not intended to be exhaustive. It will alert you to topics that you may need to read more about. The section titled Resource Lists will provide you with additional resources on these topics.

That being said…Healthy relationships are always based on common understanding. If assumptions differ, expectations differ. Where expectations differ, conflict is sure to follow. Therefore, the first step toward building a healthy board/executive director relationship is to develop a common understanding of 1) the board type 2) the individual roles and responsibilities of the board and director.

  • 5 Board Types (.pdf)
  • Board of Directors Roles and Responsibilities (.pdf)
  • Executive Director Roles and Responsibilities (.pdf)
  • Donor Relations (.pdf)

Section 3: Maintaining Mission Alignment & Organizational Integrity

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Didn’t we already cover this information in the responsibilities section of the toolkit?” Our answer to you is, “Why, yes we have!” and “Kudos to you for thoroughly reading!”

In Section 2, our focus was on specific roles and responsibilities. In this section, we developed worksheets to help you dive a little deeper into how the board and Executive Director should be practically thinking about these topics. If you want to go even deeper, more resources are available at the end of this tool kit.

  • Aligning with Mission, Vision, Core Values (.pdf)
  • Ensuring the Quality and Effectiveness of Programs (.pdf)
  • Establishing Ethical Standards with Policies & Procedures (.pdf)

Section 4: Exercising Responsible Financial Stewardship

For some leaders, managing and reading financials is their biggest concern. These articles will help you establish a basic understanding of this vital piece of your new role. Once you have a good grasp of these basic principles, we encourage you to continue learning.

  • The Top 7 Nonprofit Budgeting Mistakes (.pdf)
  • Financial Policies & Procedures (.pdf)
  • Developing a Balanced Financial Portfolio (.pdf)
  • Learn to Read the Statement of Activities (.pdf)
  • Learn to Read the Statement of Financial Position (.pdf)
  • Easy Calculations to Help You Interpret Financial Statements (.pdf)

Section 5: Resource Lists (books, articles, websites…)

  • Federal and State Regulations (.pdf – includes all resources)
  • Governance
  • Executive Director
  • Organizational Health
  • Fundraising
  • Financial Oversight

Eligibility Criteria

Tax status:  We only fund work done by organizations ruled to have tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Geographic location:  In most cases, our funding is limited to organizations in Montana.  We will occasionally provide funding to organizations that operate nationally, when their work aligns with our focus areas and impacts the nation as a whole.  We rarely fund work overseas unless we have a personal connection with the group doing the work.

Funding amounts:  We do not generally fund projects where we are the sole providers of funding, nor do we like to account for more than 50% of the budget for a project (and in most cases, less).  In addition, we prefer to start with smaller amounts for organizations that we have not worked with in the past.

Focus areas: We limit our funding to work that falls within one of our focus areas:

If your project aligns with our criteria, press the button below:

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