How To Hire A Nonprofit CFO

Nonprofit CFO

Nearly everything in nonprofit work is tied to money, so you need to be sure you have an effective overseer for your organization’s finances.

The chief financial officer is in charge of reporting on finances, making investments and capital analyses, and developing economic strategy.

When you are hiring for a nonprofit CFO position, you need to be sure to attract the best talent for the job.

Just as important as finding a skilled CFO, however, is finding one who will mesh with the rest of your organization while still offering forward-thinking innovation.

How to Hire the Right CFO in Nonprofit Industries

Attracting Candidates

Before you can start assessing candidates, you need to find them first. An important part of this process involves writing a comprehensive CFO job description for a nonprofit.

To write a good job description, ask yourself what needs this CFO must meet. For example, do you expect them to deliver financial strategies for your organization to follow? If so, include this as a responsibility in your job description.

Another important factor to include is salary. To gauge what the average CFO salary in nonprofit roles is, look at similar roles in your industry.

You might also consider looking at similar roles in other industries. Resources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average salary of certain roles for you to consider to ensure you write a detailed and correct job description.


As you attract applicants, you will need to determine which one will be the best fit. This fit is in terms of their technical skill as well as their personality and commitment level.

One great place to determine the technical and soft skills a candidate possesses is in the interview process. Because the interview is a chance to gain an in-depth perspective on a candidate’s potential, your questions should be specific and unique.

Consider asking specific questions during the interview process to probe for the following abilities:

  • Strategic thinking: Strategic thinking is part of the CFO’s duties, which involves financial strategy. Ask about times when the candidate has solved problems or simplified processes in a company or organization.
  • Collaboration: Ask about the candidate’s ability to partner with other leaders as well as what he or she would look for in a work environment. The candidate should also exhibit clear communication skills.
  • Technical financial ability: Perhaps the most obvious requirement for working as a CFO is financial expertise. Ask about difficult financial tasks the candidate has had to complete in the past. Additionally, you can ask about past financial management experience.
  • Leadership: CFOs hire and mentor financial team members as well as work with colleagues and direct reports. While analyzing leadership ability, ask the candidate about past decision-making, collaboration, and hiring experiences.
  • Motivation: Determine the candidate’s ability to move forward under difficult circumstances as well as his or her core values.
  • Vision: Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the candidate needs to care about your organization’s mission. Ask the candidate to explain why he or she wants to help your cause.

By asking specific questions about the candidate’s experiences within these areas, you’ll find a competent nonprofit CFO. In the end, your candidate will fit well within your organization’s culture with a commitment to your overall mission.

Y Scouts is an executive search firm that helps nonprofits and social enterprises find exceptional leaders. Contact us if you are looking to find an exceptional leader. To be considered for leadership opportunities with our clients, please take the first step by joining the Y Scouts Leadership Community.