There are several characteristics that can make a nonprofit administrator different from other agency management positions. An administrator’s objective in other agencies is almost always centered around making a profit for the company. To help accomplish this, they strategically hire adept, highly educated, and talented staff to work for them. In return, their employees are compensated monetarily and often enticed with other lucrative incentives. An administrator working for a nonprofit organization must find a way to recruit unpaid volunteers that are willing and committed to work towards accomplishing a mission rather than receiving a paycheck. Volunteers are typically diverse and come from all walks of life. Some of them may not be as educated or skilled as paid employees might be, but because they are in such great demand, administrators will usually find a way to train these volunteers, place them in positions where they can be the most productive, and keep them continuously motivated to stay! Successfully accomplishing such a task requires an administrator that is a visionary leader and someone that is good at inspiring others.
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Another difference that a nonprofit administrator is generally responsible for is finding the funding necessary to keep the doors of their organization or agency open and running. Most nonprofits rely partially on government funding (local, state, federal) but it’s not something they can depend on entirely and with so many nonprofits clamoring for financial resources, it can be an extremely competitive, never ending endeavor. Non-profits also rely largely on funding from private and public sources which also takes a great deal of tenacity, innovation, and dedication to obtain. An administrator must find ways for their organization and mission to “stand out” amongst all the others. The National Center for Charitable Statistics (2016), reported that there were over 1.5 million nonprofit agencies in 2015 and the numbers continue to rise. Competition is fierce, and an administrator must be effective at figuring out creative ways to fund the organization’s mission. Ultimately, developing a mission that people can relate to, believe in, and support is key!
A nonprofit administrator is likely going to encounter a great deal of legal and/or ethical issues when it comes to budgeting and funding their organization. One area of serious concern is when a financial conflict of interest arises between board members. Conflicts of interest can prove to be extremely damaging to a nonprofit organization and it’s something that an administrator and board of directors should be cognizant of at all times. The National Council for Nonprofits states that, “a policy governing conflicts of interests is perhaps the most important policy a nonprofit board can adopt”. It’s not only imperative to a nonprofit’s credibility, but also required by the IRS. The IRS form 990 specifically asks for disclosures of potential conflicts of interest. It’s vital that administrators are diligent to avoid these conflicts even if it appears to benefit the organization. Having a written policy governing conflicts of interest can be one of the most important thing an administrator puts in place.
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