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.
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.
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.
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)
- Executive Director
- Organizational Health
- Financial Oversight