What are the Different Types of Executive Director Jobs?

Carol Francois

There are three different sectors that have executive director jobs: non-profit, volunteer organizations, and co-operatives. In all three sectors, these executive director jobs have very similar qualification and job requirements. An executive director is typically the mostly highly ranked employee in a charitable organization, reporting directly to the president or board of directors.

Executive directors often work for nonprofit organizations.
Executive directors often work for nonprofit organizations.

As an executive director, the responsibilities of the position are equivalent to those of a chief executive officer or director in a commercial firm. This role provides strategical direction and keeps the organization focused on the mission. Even in a volunteer based organization, this is a paid position, which underscores the value of a quality candidate in the role.

The responsibilities of an executive director are equivalent to those of a chief executive officer in a commercial firm.
The responsibilities of an executive director are equivalent to those of a chief executive officer in a commercial firm.

In the non-profit sector, the purpose of the organization is to provide a service in the most cost-effective method possible. The executive director is in place to manage the daily operations, including the hiring of staff and development of a business plan. It is a common misconception that non-profit organizations do not have business plans. The only difference between private industry and not for profit is the mark up on the price for services. Non-profit organization can include a small mark up in their product pricing to create cash flow, but they are forbidden from creating larger profits.

In a volunteer organization, the executive director is often the only paid job. The responsibility for compliance with laws, financial guidelines and other rules for the organization falls to the holder of any executive director jobs. They must meet with the managing committee and organization oversight board to receive directions and ensure that the required tasks are completely correctly and on time. While some organization have unpaid executive director jobs, this is only realistic while the organization is small. Quality candidates require compensation, so that they can devote the time necessary to meet the organizations needs.

A co-operative organization is a business that is owned by a group of individuals that participate equally in the initiative. All the parties are financially invested and the entire organization is based on mutual benefit through democratic process. In executive director jobs, the person takes on the responsibility for meeting the specific requirements of the group. All strategic direction and financial decisions are made by the group, but the execution of these decisions is carried out by the executive director.

Organic farms and housing projects are the most common examples of the co-operative model. All participants are actively engaged in the activity of the group and have an equal stake in its success. The executive director role is often filled through a democratic process of election and they must be members of the group. The position is usually term-based, with a specific limit on the number of terms any one person can serve as director.

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