Executive Director Job Descriptions: Everything you need to know

Executive Director Job Descriptions: Everything you need to know
Last Updated: January 23, 2024

Job descriptions of Executive Directors should outline the overall purpose of the role and its primary duties. The Executive Director role can be equated to the CEO role. The title is prevalent in non-profit making organizations. It is equivalent to the CEO role, with most of the same duties. The significant differences are that while the CEO role focuses on increasing shareholder value, the Executive Director role focuses more on stakeholder impact.


The role of executive director is responsible for giving direction to the organization. They are responsible for developing the strategy to support the vision and mission of the organization. The executive director works with a group of senior executives in leading the organization. They often operate within the executive limits provided by the Board of Directors, predominantly made up of non-executive directors.


Executive Director job descriptions: Overall Purpose of the Job

To lead the organization in delivering its mandate as envisioned in its vision and mission statements. They are responsible for making decisions that determine the course that the organization will take. The impact of some of the decisions can be felt 10 years from now.


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Executive Director job descriptions: Primary Duties


  • Develops strategies to achieve the mandate and mission of the organization.
  • Develops strategies to raise funding for the organization.
  • Mobilizes strategies to support organization-wide programs.
  • Assesses the impact of the organization's intervention on the communities.
  • Develops the right skills for the organization to support short- and long-term goals.
  • Ensures good corporate governance throughout the organization.
  • Builds productive relationships with key stakeholders.
  • Develops organization-wide plans and ensures that these have been implemented.
  • Oversees all fund-raising activities.
  • Establishes and preserves trustworthy relationships with partners and other external authorities.
  • Ensures divisions have operational plans aligned to the strategy of the organization.
  • Develops policies to support the mandate and mission of the organization.
  • Ensures that human resources practices are aligned to support the organization's mandate.
  • Represent the organisation in all key stakeholder interactions.
  • Develops policies to ensure good corporate governance.
  • Ensures that periodic audits are done in all high-risk areas of the organization.
  • Develops policies to attract and retain the right talent for the organization.
  • Oversees all the organization's operations from finance, operations, human resources and other related activities.


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Executive Director job descriptions: Educational Requirements

The educational requirements you put in the Executive Director's job description must reflect the type of work and complexity handled at this level. Candidates often occupy this role with a first degree plus a master degree.


I list below the educational requirements for the Executive Director job descriptions:

  • First degree in social sciences, business or related field.
  • A Master degree in social sciences, business or related field


Usually, the degree you require in the job descriptions for the Executive Director can depend on the type of work you are involved in. For example, I have seen Executive Director job descriptions for organizations engaged in agriculture and food security requiring candidates with an agriculture-related degree. I have also noted that executive director job descriptions for people involved in sustainable livelihoods need candidates to be holders of business-related degrees.


Executive Director job descriptions: Experience Level required

The executive director job descriptions often list that they require candidates who have operated in a similar environment. Given that this type of role is prevalent in the non-profit-making organization, candidates are usually required to have non -profit making experience at a senior level.


Below I list the experience requirements you need in the executive director job descriptions.

  • 10 years of experience working in a senior capacity.
  • Experience operating in a similar environment is required.
  • Experience leading the budgeting process.
  • Experience developing funding proposals.
  • Experience mobilizing resources.
  • Experience managing the interest of diverse stakeholders.


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Executive Director job descriptions: Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and Other Characteristics(KSAO)

When deciding what KSAOs to list in the job descriptions of the Executive Director, remember that this role is strategic. Therefore, the KSAOs must be set at the right level. This role oversees all activities of the organization, for that reason, you need to be circumspect when choosing KSAOs for the role.


Below I list the KSAO you need to include in executive director job descriptions:

  • Good stakeholder management skills.
  • Critical thinking skills are a must.
  • An appreciation of applicable legislation.
  • Good report writing skills.
  • Good proposal writing skills.
  • Excellent monitoring and evaluation skills.
  • Strategic thinking skills are a requirement.
  • High levels of integrity.
  • The role requires an astute communicator.
  • A track record of effectively generating new revenue streams while also improving overall financial outcomes.
  • Participation in active fund-raising efforts.
  • Excellent ability in cultivating donor relationships and knowledge of the financing world.
  • Previous success in creating relationships with influential stakeholders and organizations, such as donors, partner agencies, and volunteers, among other types of individuals and groups.
  • Strong organizational skills are required, including planning, delegating, designing programs, and facilitating task completion.


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The title executive director is often used in non-profit organizations to refer to the organization's CEO. This title is applicable even in profit-making organizations in some situations, but it is reserved for the person in control of operations in the firm.


In situations where the role is comparable to that of the CEO, the person in that capacity is accountable for giving overall strategic direction to a company. When developing job descriptions for executive directors, it is therefore extremely important to make certain that you are aware of the location at which the function will be placed. You must decide if the role will be in a profit or non-profit organization. That insight will aid in designing a suitable job description for the executive directors.


The executive director job description often lists that the job requires an astute strategist because the role deals with the board and other key stakeholders at a strategic level. It requires someone who can supervise expert leaders at the executive level looking after the various divisions within the organization. The candidates are often required to have significant exposure to executive leadership roles for them to be successful


As you develop your executive director job descriptions, feel free to use this template job description and customize it to suit your business. It will give you a good starting point in crafting the executive director job descriptions.

Cindy Baker
Memory Nguwi
Memory Nguwi is the Managing Consultant of Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt). With a wealth of experience in human resources management and consultancy, Memory focuses on assisting clients in developing sustainable remuneration models, identifying top talent, measuring productivity, and analyzing HR data to predict company performance. Memory's expertise lies in designing workforce plans that navigate economic cycles and leveraging predictive analytics to identify risks, while also building productive work teams. Join Memory Nguwi here to explore valuable insights and best practices for optimizing your workforce, fostering a positive work culture, and driving business success.

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