Guide to Hiring a Chief Operating Officer for Your Nonprofit

How To Hire A Nonprofit COO

When an organization grows to the point where the ED’s duties become overwhelming, many consider adding a COO, or chief operating officer.

The exact role that a COO plays varies from organization to organization, but generally, the COO oversees administrative and operational functions within the nonprofit.

They may also act as the “second in command” and may even be in the role for the purpose of succession to the ED.

When hiring a nonprofit COO, it is important to first determine what role he or she will have within the organization.

How to Hire a Nonprofit COO

Role in the Organization

Since the role of a COO depends on the organization, it is crucial to define exactly how a COO will fit within your nonprofit and what skills and disposition he or she should have.

First, you will need to determine why you want to create the role. Possible reasons include balancing the ED’s skills, freeing up the ED for external enterprises, or improving your organization’s ability to implement strategies.

When outlining the role, look at your plans for the next few years and what gaps you need to fill in your leadership to get there.

Also, determine how the COO should interact with other senior staff members.

As you do this, you will get a picture of the kind of person you will need in the position. From there, create a COO job description for a nonprofit role that you can use in recruiting.

Interviewing Process

The position of COO usually requires a wide array of skills to fulfill many responsibilities. Therefore, it is important to be as thorough as possible when hiring, particularly during interviews.

Invest the time needed in each interview and be transparent. Don’t shy away from hard questions, since they can make or break a person’s potential to carry the position’s responsibility.

Some of the items you will need to ask about are:

  • Does the candidate’s temperament fit within the nature of the role?
  • Does the candidate possess the skills needed to fill any gaps in the organization’s leadership?
  • Is the candidate a good fit as far as management responsibilities are concerned?
  • How much autonomy and responsibility is the candidate willing or able to assume?
  • Will the candidate collaborate effectively with other leaders?
  • Does the candidate’s purpose align with that of the organization?

Also, be sure that you have a clear idea of where your organization stands. Ask yourself where your organization’s strengths and weaknesses are and what plans you have for the coming years.

This will help you answer the candidate’s questions, as well as better assess how good of a fit he or she will be. Above all, find someone who will be passionate about your 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 exceptional leadership opportunities with our clients, please take the first step by joining the Y Scouts Leadership Community.