The Ultimate Executive Director Job Description (Free Template)

by Joan Garry

Let’s say you’re a board member for a nonprofit organization in need of a new Executive Director. You sit down, armed with coffee and determination, ready to craft the perfect nonprofit executive director job description. 

You know that finding a new Executive Director can be quite the adventure, but writing a job description that’s effective, engaging, and true to your organization’s spirit is no small feat. Don’t worry! I’m here to support you with a free template to help make writing a strong nonprofit executive director job description a breeze.

But first, let’s chat about why I felt so compelled to create this one-of-a-kind executive director job description template. You see, there are five critical issues that plague nonprofit job descriptions:

  1. Leadership transitions are bumpier than a cross-country road trip in a jalopy. And they take soooo long too. While some bumps are just part of the package, we can speed up the process by not obsessing over every little detail in the job description.
  1. A fantastic job description isn’t just a grocery list of “whats;” it’s a marketing tool that woos top-notch, diverse candidates to your organization’s doorstep. Don’t just focus on tasks; make it sing!
  1. Nonprofit executive job descriptions often read like they’re for a corporate CEO. Let’s not forget the passion for the mission that makes the nonprofit sector so unique!
  1. Job descriptions can be unintentional gatekeepers. My own first executive director position required fundraising experience, which I didn’t have. Did that stop me from applying? Heck no! But not everyone shares my chutzpah.
  1. Skills and experience aren’t everything. I was asked to interview for that first position because I had qualities the search committee believed would make me a successful fundraiser. Job descriptions should focus on key attributes, not just the “whats.”

I’m a problem-solver at heart, and these five issues had me itching to make a difference. So, I crafted a template to tackle these job description pitfalls.


This template may look different from others you’ve seen and might not be a perfect fit for every organization. Feel free to add or remove items as needed, but it should help you get started.

I truly hope this template aids you in your journey. If you’re about to write an executive director job description or are part of a search committee, I hope this sparks a shift in your thinking, encouraging you to focus on the unique qualities that will lead to a fantastic hire. Good luck, my nonprofit comrades!