Although we at LeaderFit are committed to pay equity and ensuring that equal work receives equal pay, the reality is that salaries and compensation at non-profit organizations range broadly. This is due to several reasons and reflect the differing and mixed motivations people have for working at non-profits organizations. Many employees choose to work at a particular non-profit due to its mission and purpose, and some are willing to volunteer, receiving nothing but thanks for their labors. Others may be re-entering the work force after stepping away or might be retiring from their initial career looking to share wisdom and expertise for a second act. These kinds of employees might not need or desire the same kind of compensation as others understanding that any resources not spent on personnel costs remain available for programs and services. Thus, there is no standard range for executive compensation.

The Benefits of Transparency.

At LeaderFit, we recommend a spirit of transparency regarding salaries within non-profit organizations. Non-profits of all kinds need to be accountable to funders regarding the use of the resources they receive. Since all nonprofits are required to file 990 forms which publish their salaries, NGOs have extra need to be transparent about compensation. Furthermore, having equitable and fair pay scales across an organization can contribute to a positive work environment ensuring employees don’t feel undervalued and underappreciated which in turn can impact employee happiness and retention.

However, while salaries should be equitable across an organization, there is also the reality that not all employees are the same. Thus, when recruiting a new hire, and posting a job description, LeaderFit recommends outlining a salary range on the job listing.  

The Salary Range.

The targeted salary, or the top end of the range, should be what the organization is able and willing to pay the ideal candidate meeting all the qualifications that the organization is looking for. However, posting a range, rather than a figure, provides an NGO the flexibility to modify the salary should the organization hire a candidate who does not possess all the desired qualifications or have all the hoped-for experiences. To avoid wasting the time of the both the hiring organization and candidates, it is important that the top-end of the range and the full benefits package be spelled out at the first interview so prospective candidates can know if this organization may or may not be a good financial fit for them.

Building an appropriate salary range.

There are several ways to research and identify a salary range for your organization. In building salary ranges, LeaderFit recommends looking at the salaries of comparable positions at similar organization in your area using:

  • 990 forms,
  • online resources like: GuideStar, Nonprofitwhite, the Nonprofit Times Salary survey, or
  • Conversations with peers at sister organizations.

When hiring a new leader many boards like the idea of promoting from within their organization. Nonetheless, experience has taught LeaderFit that in order have a successful search, and for the sake of objectivity and transparency, hiring organizations need to go through all the steps of a thorough search, especially when internal candidates are involved. We recommend that all internal candidates (including interim directors) candidate for any open position just as outside applicants.

Because internal candidates already work at the hiring organization these situations can be extremely delicate and must be handled with care. Internal candidates must be treated with dignity and respect in order to maintain productive, healthy working relationships. Throughout the search, every effort should be made to set clear expectations and maintain open communication. To this end, LeaderFit recommends:

Avoid ‘throw your hat in the ring’ mentality.

Often internal candidates are encouraged to ‘go ahead and apply’ if there is any expression of interest in an open position. While there may be appreciation of an internal candidate’s interest and ambition, this approach can lead to unnecessary pain and embarrassment if the candidate is obviously not qualified for the position. If this is the case, LeaderFit recommends that an under-qualified internal candidate not be encouraged to go through the whole application process. Instead, we recommend that a frank, honest conversation be had informing the internal candidate that their resume has been evaluated and that the committee has deemed that they are not ready for this role at this time. The search committee should use this demonstrated interest as a professional development opportunity to:

  • Express gratitude and appreciation for the employee’s interest and desire to grow within the organization,
  • Provide substantive feedback about the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses in relation to the job description, and
  • Develop a plan for what the employee can do to grow towards their desired role within the organization.

Commit to an open and unbiased evaluation process.

If the internal candidate possesses the necessary qualifications, it is important that the board communicate that there is no ‘heir apparent’ for the position. Internal candidates must not believe that the job is ‘theirs to lose’. Instead, like all other applicants, internal candidates must submit their resume, sit for an interview, be evaluated by the scorecard, etc. If a board member or someone on the search committee is close to an internal candidate, this member must recuse themselves or pledge to strict confidentiality during the portion of the process involving this candidate.

Conduct due diligence.

It is critical to ensure that the board or search committee not have rose-colored glasses with regard their internal candidate. Boards members will likely have had experience with an internal candidate and will have pre-existing impressions of him or her. Note, however, that board members often see just one side of an internal candidate. It therefore will be necessary for the board to get a well-founded, full picture of the candidate’s leadership abilities. Just as boards require, and check, references for all external applicants, boards must have a way to capture feedback from others within the organization. At LeaderFit, we often conduct anonymous internal surveys involving the whole staff in evaluating an internal candidate’s leadership abilities. Another way to get internal feedback from within the organization is to ask senior leadership to interview the candidates and provide their feedback to the board either jointly or individually.


LeaderFit has learned that providing honest communication and clear expectations is the best way to handle internal candidates. The combination of giving honest feedback about whether an internal candidate should apply for a position, followed by an open and rigorous evaluation process has enabled organizations to identify the most qualified candidates for an open position while protecting the dignity and reputations of those already on staff.

The departure of an organization’s founder can be challenging time for both the organization and its founder. Any person who has successfully launched a new venture naturally becomes deeply attached to the organization and feels very strongly about its future success and sustainability. Having worked with hundreds of non-profit organizations through transitions of this kind, LeaderFit has developed the following recommendations:

Honor the work of the founding executive director.

Boards should take time to celebrate the achievements of their founder. Beyond focusing on an organization’s future, boards should use the opportunity of an executive transition to also look backward highlighting the role, service and success of its founding executive director.

Set clear expectations of post-departure involvement.

Boards should communicate to exiting founders that once their replacement starts, the departing founder will have no official role in the organization. This means that the outgoing director should not remain for a transition period and should not transition onto the board. Instead, boards should indicate that there may be an opportunity for serving as an advisor or paid consultant after stepping away for a period of time, but that the nature and extent of the involvement will be the purview of incoming executive director.

No role in the search process.

The outgoing executive director should not be directly involved in the search for his or her replacement. Usually, a founder of a non-profit has recruited friends and family onto the organization’s board and these strong friendships can generate mixed loyalties. Long histories and personal relationships can mean that a board will defer to their founding director, possibly sabotaging even the best of intentions and preventing the board from hiring the type of leader the organization needs. LeaderFit has developed a firm policy that if an exiting founder is involved in a search, LeaderFit won’t take on that organization as a client.

Encourage all involved to trust the process.

The advice, input and insight of the exiting founder is invaluable to a board and its search committee. The board should gather the founder’s input, ask the outgoing director to remain involved and supportive and spell out the process that the organization will follow in finding and hiring its new leader. The board should encourage the exiting founder to let the search committee do its work and trust that a thoughtful, purposeful process will generate the best candidates. 


Boards and their organizations need to maintain strong relationships with their outgoing executive directors. By setting clear expectations and boundaries, LeaderFit has enabled many boards to garner the advice and goodwill of their exiting founder while simultaneously setting up their new executive director for success.

The most important decision a board faces is the hiring of its leader. At LeaderFit we know that this decision has the single biggest impact on an organization’s success and sustainability. Given the importance of the hiring decision, LeaderFit believes a board should give special attention and care to setting up their search committee, and selecting their committee chair.

How to Identify a Search Committee Chair

After thirteen years of executive search, LeaderFit has developed some recommendations for boards in appointing their search committee chair. Specifically, LeaderFit recommends that a search committee chair:

  • Should not also be chair of the board. Board chairs are often very close to outgoing executive directors. To oversee an effective search, the search committee will benefit from a chair who is not too closely tied to the outgoing executive director, but instead has a more neutral perspective and can provide objectivity in the search for a new leader.
  • Has the time and capacity to serve in this role. The search for a new director is usually very intensive and time-consuming. A successful search requires a committee chair that understands the importance of the transition and can dedicate the necessary time and attention for the duration of the search.
  • Can serve as an effective point person.  While the search chair has no more clout or influence than other committee or board members, an effective search committee chair will need to competently manage committee logistics making sure materials are disseminated, meetings and interviews scheduled, and that gatherings start and end on time. The chair should be timely, dependable and detail oriented.
  • Well-regarded, well-liked by other board members. Because the search chair will be spearheading the search committee for the duration of the search, the selected chair should have the respect and confidence of all the other board members. Ideally, this individual will also be well-regarded by key-stakeholders within the organization.
  • Has high EQ and is good facilitator. Ideally a search chair will be able to represent the board to interviewing candidates as well as represent leading candidates to the full board. In order to do this, effective search committee chairs will have good interpersonal skills, be able to read reactions, and assess and capture interpersonal dynamics.
  • Ideally has experience being involved in a successful search. Experience with successful hiring can help provide insight to a new search. An ideal search committee chair will have prior hiring/search experience to bring to bear on a new search for an executive director. 

How to Structure a Search Committee

The role of search committee is not to select a board’s new executive director, it is to narrow the pool of applicants and interview and select the most qualified candidates. A search committee ensures a fair and thorough review of candidates, and ultimately makes a recommendation to the full board of their top slate. LeaderFit recommends that the members of an organization’s full search committee:

  • Comprise 5-7 board members. LeaderFit believes is preferable to have a smaller committee of committed and consistent members than a larger one comprised of members who don’t have time and attention to give to the process. However, due to the challenges of scheduling, a search committee should not be comprised of less than 5 members.
  • Have deep institutional knowledge. In order to effectively narrow and prioritize candidates, search committee members must have a deep understanding of the needs and culture of the organization for which they are hiring.
  • Reflect the diversity of the organization and/or community in which it serves. Ideally search committee members will reflect the diversity of the staff and/or clientele of the organization for which they are hiring. 
  • Have a clear expectation of availability. Serving on a search committee is a temporary but intense committee assignment. Selected members need to be able to honor the required time commitment and have the availability and attention to devote to the process.
  • Have experience effectively hiring. Any experience with successful hiring can help provide insight to a new search. Ideally search committee members, will have prior hiring/search experience to bring to bear on a new search for an executive director.


It is important to note, that a lack of seriousness or attentiveness to the hiring process can be potentially off-putting to the strongest and most qualified candidates. Both the individual search committee members and the committee chair need to be cognizant of how they are representing their organization to the applicants and ensure that their committee reflects professionalism, objectivity and collegiality. Experience has taught LeaderFit that a search committee structured in the ways outlined above will be the most effective in selecting its next leader.

At LeaderFit, we believe hiring a new employee presents a unique, organizational opportunity. Recruiting a new employee presents a chance to step back and re-evaluate the mission of a particular position as well as potentially re-imagine its role within the larger organization. Hiring a new employee also provides a chance to assess the culture of the non-profit to see what new attributes or experiences might be needed as an organization grows and evolves over time.

Thus, before launching any job search, LeaderFit recommends every organization complete the following steps before posting a listing or collecting resumes: 

1. Conduct a needs assessment of the role.

The purpose of a needs assessment is to clarify the exact size and scope of the role, and conducting the assessment requires a thorough understanding of the day-to-day activities and duties of the position. This information can be gathered by collecting input from current employees via townhall events, surveys, and conversations with key stakeholders. The needs assessment should capture the hard skills required by the position. These will include the specific knowledge, skills, training and experience necessary to fulfill the outlined role and duties. The needs assessment should also include the soft skills that a successful employee would have including leadership straits, cultural values and other attributes desired by the hiring organization.

2. Develop a job description outlining the ideal candidate.

Once the hiring organization has conducted its assessment of the required position, a detailed job description can be developed. The job description should include a summary of the position based on the input gathered from various stakeholders. It should also include a list of responsibilities so that applicants and new hires know what will be expected and what success for this position will look like. The job description should also include a list of qualifications the ideal candidate would have, specifying which qualifications are non-negotiable and which would be nice to have.

3. Create an internal scorecard.

Because interviews, and hiring decisions, can be skewed by personal rapport or inter-personal connections, LeaderFit recommends developing an internal scorecard to provide consistency and objectivity throughout the interview process. The scorecard should be structured as an objective tool for use in every interview to ensure that candidates are evaluated similarly throughout the process. Using a scorecard or similar matrix demonstrates an organization’s commitment to a fair and transparent hiring process and provides an objective way for an organization to assess candidates by capturing real and relevant information on each one. Scorecards should be collated and passed along to the search/hiring committee to facilitate second round interviews and final hiring decisions. LeaderFit is committed to using a scorecard in every interview it conducts.

4. Customize further interview questions based on scorecard.

Once candidates have been evaluated consistently using a scorecard, it will become clear where an applicant’s strengths and weaknesses lie. This information then provides an opportunity for the hiring organization to create customized interview questions for each finalist probing the areas where the organization’s needs and a candidate’s skills may not align perfectly and to see if there is room for growth, interest in training, etc.


LeaderFit uses each of these steps in evaluating every candidate it interviews. LeaderFit’s proprietary methodology has been adapted from GH Smart’s approach and has enabled us to successfully fill vacancies at over 250 NGOs. Whether your organization decides to hire LeaderFit to help fill an open position, taking the time to a develop a thoughtful, purposeful process and applying it consistently will enhance the search process generating candidates aligned with the vacancy and the organization.

An executive search firm offers many benefits that can help your organization save significant time and provide expert guidance at every step. Here are a few specific benefits we offer our clients.

1. Efficient Time Management

An executive search process can take hundreds of hours of time — from coordinating the search committee, to conducting extensive marketing and outreach, to reviewing hundreds of applications, to scheduling, interviewing and evaluating candidates, to conducting thorough reference checks. LeaderFit manages all of the details so you can focus on the most important work – interviewing and hiring the best candidate!

2. Extensive Industry Knowledge and Trend Awareness

An experienced firm can offer a deep understanding of the key challenges and trends impacting the talent market for a particular industry. We can also help you avoid common pitfalls. And we know where to look to find hidden talent, those gems who aren’t actively searching and may not respond to a traditional job posting.

3. A Proven Process

Our experience successfully leading hundreds of searches has enabled us to develop and continually refine a process that carefully assesses candidates on multiple dimensions, including knowledge, skills, experiences, leadership attributes, and cultural competencies.

4. Expansive Network of Qualified Executives

For more than two decades, our team has cultivated a strong and diverse network of experts across every sector. We also receive new inquiries from executive job seekers every day. From day-one, we can hit the ground running to build a strong and diverse pipeline of qualified candidates.

5. Objective Guidance

An important value-add we bring to our clients is the objectivity and distance of a third party. This is particularly helpful in situations with internal candidates, a complicated leadership success, or where there are different opinions about the ideal candidate profile.

According to Gallup’s annual survey of American workers, more than 70% of us are disengaged at work. Think about that for a minute.  A majority of us are not happy and likely not as productive as we could be for most of our waking hours.  To us, that is just sad and unacceptable!

I once met a financially successful lawyer who was miserable going to work everyday.  When I asked him why he chose a legal career, he told me that during his senior year of college, as graduation was looming, he started to panic when he had no idea what we wanted to do.  Going to law school, he said, bought him three more years to try and figure it out. But then he was saddled with student loans in the six-figures. Despite miserable experiences during his summer legal internships, he felt obliged to accept one of the attractive offers he received from a top firm. Besides, he still had no idea what he really wanted to do. He told himself he could do anything for a few years, pay off his debt, and then find a career path more aligned with his passions.  So he put his head down, worked long hours, and made enough money to pay off his law school loans, buy a nice house (along with a big mortgage), and pay for private school for his kids. But to maintain that lifestyle, he needed to keep “feeding the beast,” as he put it. He had the “golden handcuffs,” a phrase we hear often in the recruiting world and he didn’t feel capable of escaping without making a major sacrifice.  So, he kept his head down. When he finally looked up thirty years later, he was twenty years older, fifty pounds heavier, and just as unhappy as the day he started.  

It’s pretty remarkable to think how many of us make a decision about our career before we’ve had any real experience in the world. There’s a lot of societal pressure to “just pick something and then stick with it.”  And maybe you’re one of the lucky few who found a true vocation right out of the gate.  You know those annoying people who say they never worked a day in their life because they love what they do so much? Well, good for them.  For the remaining 98% of us, it’s very likely going to take some trial and error. And that’s ok!  With the right mindset, we can learn from these experiences and grow in our character and skills.

What would the world look like if instead 70% of us went to work every day with an understanding of what we were uniquely good at and then used those gifts for good?  And, just as importantly, what if we understood our weaknesses and learned to minimize them?  We would not only feel more engaged but also more productive and a lot happier.

If you are reading this, you are among a small group that is privileged to even ask these questions. With that privilege, we believe, comes responsibility and opportunity. In our work as executive search consultants, we meet thousands of job seekers each year who are burnt out, depressed, confused, and frustrated.

Before you embark on your job search, we encourage you to take some time to reflect on the following ten questions that can help make your journey much easier:

  1. What are you uniquely good at?
  2. What are you passionate about?
  3. What do you like and want more of in your life?
  4. What are you not good at?
  5. What do you not like and want to avoid?
  6. What are your proudest professional accomplishments and why?
  7. Who inspires you and why?
  8. What are your core values and priorities?
  9. What is important to you in a work environment?
  10. What do you want to learn?

And if you’re like my friend the lawyer, it’s not too late to change careers!  

About N Street Village
N Street Village is a community of empowerment and recovery for homeless and low-income women in Washington, DC. With comprehensive services addressing both emergency and long-term needs. N Street Village helps women achieve stability and make meaningful gains in their housing, income, employment, mental health, physical health, and addiction recovery. N Street Village also provides affordable rental housing for low-and moderate-income individuals and families. Please visit our website for more information at:

Position Summary
Reporting to the CEO, the CFO is an integral member of the Executive Team, which also includes the Chief Program Officer (CPO), Chief Development Officer (CDO), and Chief Operating Officer (COO). The CFO is primarily responsible for ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of the organization as it strives to enhance mission delivery. The CFO will lead and manage all day-to-day finance / accounting, compliance and government contracting functions, work with the Executive Team to execute the organization’s strategic planning processes, and lead the ongoing evolution of finance and accounting systems to support growth and risk mitigation efforts.

Key Responsibilities:

Strategic Financial Management

  • Lead financial areas of the organizational strategic planning process in consultation with the CEO and Executive Team, the Treasurer, Board of Directors, and appropriate Board Committees.

  • Identify, evaluate, resolve or capitalize on internal and external opportunities and challenges; work with the Executive Team, Treasurer and the Board to maximize opportunities and mitigate or solve challenges.

  • Lead ongoing strategic financial planning and analysis effort; provide analysis and guidance to the CEO and the Board to enable sound decision-making, ensure sustainability, and mitigate risk.

  • Lead financial evaluation / due diligence of growth opportunities (e.g. new programs, mergers/acquisitions), consulting with CEO, Treasurer and appropriate Board Committees.

  • Work closely with COO (who assumes primary responsibility) on tracking organizational performance against strategic goals, and promoting continuous improvement of internal systems and processes. Ensure that consideration of financial implications is integral to the process.

    • Coordinated by the COO, the Executive Team will identify overall annual organizational objectives needed to implement N Street Village’s strategic goals. COO will track progress against those objectives, and communicate status to relevant constituents.

    • Work with COO to develop a regular process and annual calendar for reviewing program performance, and departmental reviews for each functional area.

Financial Staff Management

  • Lead Finance / Accounting, Compliance, and Government Contracting functions. Recruit, develop, coach and retain successful staff; supplement in-house capacity with consultants or subcontractors as needed.

  • In partnership with the COO, CPO and CDO, promote efficient coordination between finance/accounting, operations, development and program teams.

  • Develop capability to support expansion of services as needed—e.g. Medicaid billing, real estate development and other strategic priorities.

Financial Oversight

  • Oversee the preparation and delivery of financial reports and projections to various audiences including the Treasurer, Board of Directors, CEO, staff, investors and auditors.

  • Analyze and interpret results and trends.

  • Oversee cash forecasting and management, oversee annual budgeting process and annual audit processes. Ensure that financial controls, policies and procedures are in place and updated.

  • Ensure effective management of relationships with financial institutions, investment advisors, and property management company.

  • Serve as liaison for financial issues to the Board, participating in regular Board and appropriate committee meetings.

Risk Management and Compliance

  • Oversee compliance in all aspects of the organization – including contract review, reporting requirements, business licenses and investor relations for all separate legal entities, audit procedure, and physical plant, including compliance with all agreements with lender and investor partners in a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit property.

  • Monitor the organization’s compliance with complex legal, contractual, and ethical requirements. Ensure that the CEO, Treasurer and the Board are alerted to areas of identified risk.

  • Responsible for asset management with respect to a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit property.

  • Act as the liaison to legal services as needed and prudent.

  • Provide financial perspective on prospective contracts which the organization may enter.

Experience, Knowledge, Skills:

  • Advanced degree in business or finance required.

  • Minimum of ten years’ experience in a C-suite or Director role and with direct supervision of financial staff. Familiarity with real estate, permanent supportive housing or affordable housing, and/or government contracting, including Medicaid billing, a plus.

  • Successful financial, operational and risk management experience.

  • Skilled in financial modeling and analysis.

  • Outstanding interpersonal skills. Ability to work collaboratively with peers to improve mission deliverables as an Executive Team.

  • Excellent written, oral communication and presentation skills. Ability to translate complex data into clear messages for a wide range of audiences.

  • Self-starter, critical and strategic thinker. Skilled problem solver with results orientation.

  • Values commensurate with a community committed to providing inclusive services in an atmosphere of dignity and respect without regard to race, religion, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.