Career Story: Administrative Director Of A Non-Profit

Administrative Director Of A Non-Profit

Job Title: Administrative Director Of A Non-Profit Organization

Type of Company: My organization supports social change movements in areas of the world where people suffer from oppression and chronic poverty.

Education: BA, Literature, University of Michigan •• certificate, Non-profit Management, Northeastern University

Previous Experience: I worked in two non-profit organizations, in outreach and fundraising, before taking my current job.

Job Tasks: I am responsible for the financial and administrative operations of my organization. I make sure we have accurate systems for keeping track of what we earn through grant awards and contributions, and what we spend on our programs. I am responsible for administering payroll and benefits for our employees -- health insurance, for example, and paid time off. I make sure our technology is adequate for our current and future programs and am also involved in implementing technology plans and responding to technical problems. As part of the management team, I develop and implement strategies for becoming most effective at delivering resources and services to the people we serve.

An example of a typical project is developing the annual budget. We start by estimating the long-term needs of our programs. Are they expanding? Do we need more money and resources in one area, as opposed to another? What are key capabilities we would like to invest in, such as new technologies for helping people we work with in different countries communicate with each other? We then review the funding sources that support our work. What commitments do we already have for the coming year? What new sources of funding do we plan to develop? Are there areas in which we risk losing funding? We draw the revenue and expense information together, make adjustments, and finally arrive at a blueprint for moving forward in the following year.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is helping my co-workers get what they need to do their jobs most effectively. This can take the form of money for their programs, benefits so they can feel secure and supported in their work, or technology that will allow them to leverage their talents. The work we do -- supporting movements that allow disenfranchised communities to take control of their lives -- is important, and I like the feeling that I help make it possible.

The worst part of my job is that our resources are limited: not enough people, not enough money, not enough time to make all the things happen that we would like. It can be a struggle to keep the whole operation moving forward. But I can't imagine not doing this.

Job Tips: Most of what I know I learned on the job. After doing this for ten years, I went back and did a graduate certificate in non-profit management. But there are definitely times when I wish I'd gotten more formal education, primarily in non-profit finance and management, because learning from one's mistakes can be tough. Regardless, I think it's important to lead with the mission. That is, instead of thinking about a career in non-profit administration (if that's even something a person would think!), try to think about what kind of work, what issues or causes move you to act, and then persist until you find a way in.

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