3 Ways to Prepare Mid-Level Professionals at Your Nonprofit for Leadership

Jami Bachrad
August 15, 2022

What if your next Executive Director is already at your organization? 

We all know how time-consuming it is to hire a new Executive Director or Director of Development–especially these days, when there’s such high turnover in leadership positions. 

Some professionals have decided to retire or make a career pivot after the pandemic, while others get recruited away with better offers. 

Whatever the reason, there’s a leadership gap in the nonprofit sector right now. And you have the power to be part of the solution. 

Why Should We Develop Leaders Internally? 

When we hire a talented development associate or manager, we should always be thinking about their growth trajectory. Not just, why are they a strong fit for this role–but how can they grow and thrive here? 

There are a lot of benefits to this. When you show employees you’re invested in their growth, they are more likely to stay and enjoy their work. And we need talented rising professionals to stay in the nonprofit sector. The success of the nonprofit world literally depends on them! 

It’s also hugely beneficial to nonprofits to retain high-achieving development leaders. It takes so many resources to recruit and onboard a new leader. These associate and manager-level professionals already bring a baseline of knowledge about our organization and fundraising that is invaluable. 

So…what can you do to develop and promote the talented mid-level leaders at your nonprofit? 

3 Ways to Prepare Talented Professionals for Senior Leadership Positions 

  1. Maintain an open dialogue about their growth and career goals. This should not just be a conversation for an annual review. Check in monthly or quarterly to get an understanding of your employee’s passions and workload. Some questions to ask might include: Are you getting what you need out of this role? What are you excited to learn about? Where do you see yourself in a year? 
  2. Offer competitive compensation and good benefits. If a professional doesn’t see a growth opportunity financially, they will be less likely to stay. Offering annual raises, strong benefits, and a flexible work schedule shows your investment in that employee’s happiness and growth. 
  3. Provide ongoing professional development. Whether that’s taking a class, participating in a professional development cohort, or offering coaching, make sure your mid-level professionals have access to professional development that aligns with their goals and interests. 

Not sure where to start? Download today’s freebie, which provides a list of specific skills needed for professionals who want to advance to a senior leadership role. You may even want to review this list with your employees to see what they’re most interested in learning!