Nia Blog

The Principle Responsibilities of an NGO Exec. Director


Create a Vision

First and foremost, a successful executive director must create a clear vision that is shared with others in order to provide unity within an organization. This vision must be singular and the executive director must make sure that his/her coworkers understand the vision and are inspired by it. This will keep them motivated and enthusiastic about their responsibilities and what is expected of them.2 Creating a vision includes thinking about the future—anticipating where the organization is going and what opportunities lie ahead. It is helpful to envision a goal and what the organization needs to do in order to be proactive and attain that goal.3

Creating a vision also comes hand-in-hand with having a strong and thorough understanding of the organization’s mission. It is important to understand that the mission statement differs from the vision in two ways: it may be created by the board of directors rather than the executive director, and it encompasses what an organization’s purpose is and what activities they partake in rather than what is going to be implemented in the future.4 The executive director must be deeply committed to the mission and the context in which it operates. This is highly significant in guarding against “mission drift”—when an organization begins to stray and get distracted from its crucial programs and activities by partaking in activities that do not directly fulfill its purpose.5 Following and staying committed to the mission of an organization helps the executive director stay on track with the vision and allows him/her to more effectively accomplish future goals.

Lead and Manage

The most significant part of an executive’s job is leading and managing the organization. This part of the job includes outlining all the tasks that need to be fulfilled in the organization and
1 McNamara, Carter. (1997-2008). “Basic Overview of Role of Chief Executive.” Adapted from the Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision and Field Guide to Developing and Operating Your Nonprofit Board of Directors. Retrieved June 9, 2008 from Free Management Library: 2 Di Frances, John. (2005.) The Six Essential Leadership Attributes. Retrieved June 9, 2008, from 3 Wolf, Thomas. (1999). Managing a Nonprofit Organization in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Simon & Schuster. 4 Wolf, Thomas. (1999). 5 Moyers, Richard L. (2006). The Nonprofit Chief Executive’s Ten Basic Responsibilities. Washington: BroadSource