How to Write a Job Description for a Nonprofit - dummies

How to Write a Job Description for a Nonprofit

By Stan Hutton, Frances Phillips

One of the first things you should do when looking to hire a paid employee for your nonprofit is to write a job description for the position you want to fill. Going through this exercise helps you clarify the skills needed for the job and guides you in selecting among applicants. The final description serves as a job blueprint for the new employee.

A job description usually includes the following information:

  • A short paragraph describing the job and the work environment

  • A list of duties and responsibilities

  • A list of skills and abilities needed for the job

  • Experience and education required

  • Special qualifications required or desired

When writing your job description, keep in mind that work in nonprofit organizations can be split into three broad areas:

  • Services: Services are the reason the organization exists in the first place. They may include developing protected open space on a coastal bluff, providing home visits and hot meals to seniors, or organizing after-school activities for children. This list is almost unlimited.

  • Administrative functions: These functions include bookkeeping and accounting, office management, property or building management, marketing, website design, clerical services, benefits administration, and contract management. You can add to this list as needed.

  • Fundraising: This area falls under various names, including resource development and advancement. Depending on the size of your organization, one person may be in charge of all aspects of raising money, or different people may specialize in writing grants to foundations and government agencies, creating sponsorships with corporations, or raising money from individual donors.

The larger these areas are, the greater the specialization within them. But when you’re looking to hire your first staff member, that one person may have job responsibilities in more than one area. It may seem like too much to describe in a single document, but that complexity and the high level of responsibility this person will have make it particularly important to create a job description that’s crystal clear.