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How to Write Effective Job Descriptions for Nonprofits

Effective job descriptions are extremely important. Why? Because it’s the first impression your organization makes on an applicant. And as the old saying goes, “There’s only one chance to make a first impression”.

For an applicant, the job description introduces them to your organization. It tells about your mission, vision, and values. It shares a description of what working in that role at your organization entails and sets the foundation for employee performance expectations once hired. And if it’s written correctly, the job description tells an applicant how you compensate your employees.

A job description is so much more than just some words about a job you’re hiring for.

So what should an effective job description include?

Effective job descriptions for nonprofits should always include the following information:

  • An introduction to your organization

  • A complete description of the role

  • A statement about reporting requirements

  • ADA statements

  • Core competencies and experience requirements

  • An accurate list of compensation

Let’s take a look at each requirement:

Introduction to your Organization

Providing a potential applicant with some background information about your organization is important. In this section of your job description, you want to be sure to state your organization’s mission and vision, as well as your company values.

Putting this information in the forefront helps a potential applicant determine whether or not their personal values align with those of your organization. This helps to ensure that you’re getting applicants who support your organization’s vision and will feel personally invested in working toward your organization’s mission.

Complete Description of the Role

The key word here is complete. This means providing an accurate summary of the job and listing all of the key responsibilities the applicant should expect to have in the role.

Often, organizations list only the “most important” responsibilities and job requirements, leaving many other responsibilities and tasks unmentioned in the job description. The problem with this is that the potential applicant is left with only a partial picture of what the role will entail.

Then what happens when they’re hired and assigned a variety of tasks they aren’t expecting to be responsible for? Often, this leaves new hires feeling underprepared and overwhelmed.

To avoid this, it’s important to make sure that job descriptions are an accurate reflection of what that role truly looks like on a day-to-day basis.

Reporting Requirements

It’s important to state who a potential applicant will report to if hired. Do they report to one person or multiple? If the role is at a managerial level or higher, will the new applicant have direct reports? How many?

These are all things potential applicants need to know in order to determine if a role is a good fit for them.

ADA Statements

Will the role require a significant amount of sitting or standing? Are there requirements to lift heavy objects or do a lot of bending? It’s important to make sure these things are noted in your job description so that applicants can appropriately determine if the role is a fit for them.

Core Competencies, Years of Experience, and Education

As with almost any job, there will be certain requirements applicants must meet in order to be an appropriate fit for the role. Clearly outlining the required core competencies, years of experience, and minimum level of education is important because it lets the applicant know if their qualifications fit what you’re looking for.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to focus on the minimum qualifications you require for the role. This means that candidates who meet these expectations can expect to receive an offer on the low end of the compensation range you provide (which we will discuss next). Similarly, candidates who exceed the expectations you provide in your job description can expect to receive an offer that is somewhere in the middle or at the higher end of the provided salary range.

This is important because an applicant needs to be sure that the job will meet their financial needs, and having a solid idea of whether or not the job will provide sufficient compensation will help applicants determine whether or not they should invest the time and energy into going through the application process.


Be transparent about compensation. Potential applicants should be provided with a reasonable salary range so they’re able to determine whether or not the role will be able to financially support them.

Information about benefits should also be included. Information about health benefits, retirement contributions, and any other perks provided by your organization will help a potential applicant make an informed decision about whether or not the role will support their needs.

What is the best process to follow for writing a job description?

When drafting a job description, it is best to begin with a template or example. This helps to ensure that all job descriptions within your organization are consistent and provide the necessary information. If your organization doesn’t already have these resources in place, check out our Sample Job Description and Job Profile Template. (Feel free to make a copy and use them as guides!)

Begin the drafting process by gathering all of the required information. A great way to ensure you’re putting together an accurate picture of the role is to speak with people who are currently working in that role or have worked in it in the past.

Ask them things like:

  • What tasks do/did they perform on a daily basis?

  • What skills and experience are minimally required to complete the job satisfactorily?

  • What programs, software, or processes do/did they need to be fluent with?

  • What physical demands are present within the role?

  • Who do/did they report to?

  • If the position is at a managerial level, how many employees report(ed) to them on a regular basis?

Often, through the process of interviewing individuals who currently have or previously had the role, you’ll realize there are tasks or requirements for the job that you weren’t fully aware of. Therefore, this is an excellent way to gather insight that will help to ensure the job description you compose is an accurate reflection of the role.

To download our free list of job review questions, click HERE.

Need more support and guidance?

If our resources aren’t enough to make you feel confident about writing thorough and accurate job descriptions, contact us today to schedule a FREE Discovery Call and learn more about the ways Cause Capacity can help your organization with this important process.


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