Before Signing On, What Not-for-Profit CEO Candidates Must Ask

“When recruiting chief executives for not-for-profit organizations,” writes Witt/Kieffer’s Julie Rosen, “I pose one key question for each candidate: Are you truly passionate and committed to the organization’s mission and its work?”

Julie Rosen

Mission alignment is critical, Rosen says. As a not-for-profit CEO, “you will be eating and breathing this work, 24/7.” Beyond this, however, Rosen believes there are several fundamental questions that nonprofit CEO candidates must earnestly consider as they interview and face the prospect of signing on with an organization. Rosen poses and discusses eight questions in a new resource from Witt/Kieffer:

Before Signing On, What Not-for-Profit CEO Candidates Must Ask

The questions include:

  1. What is the financial health of the organization?
  2. Has the staff been stable and productive?
  3. Is there a strong and stable board? (And how about the committees: Executive, Finance, Nominating, Governance, and Development?)
  4. Are there bylaws and provisions for board member term limits?
  5. Does the organization have a loyal donor base?
  6. What is the profile and reputation of the organization in the community?
  7. Why did the last executive director or CEO leave?
  8. What are the measures of success in the first 18 months?

“These are tough questions to ask and take time to consider,” Rosen concludes. “Nevertheless, they are an essential part of your due diligence regarding the top job with a not-for-profit. If you get positive information about most or all of these questions – and you truly care about the mission – then this is the right place for you.”

[Editor’s Note: We’re pleased that GuideStar and Charity Village have both published Julie Rosen’s article as well.]

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