Nonprofits exist to make the world a better place, and the right executive leadership can propel their missions forward. If you run a nonprofit, you’re already working hard and tirelessly — why should you have to squeeze time into your schedule and devote your limited resources to finding your next executives?

Effective executive leadership propels nonprofit missions.

A top nonprofit executive search firm can help connect your company with candidates who possess exemplary leadership, budget mastery, and the innovative strategies necessary to grow your unique organizational goals and meet your specific needs.

Let’s take a look at why nonprofits need executive search firms, the qualities you should look for in an executive search, and the top 10 nonprofit executive search firms equipped to help you find the right talent.

Executive search firms help identify purpose-driven C-suite executives.

Why nonprofits should use executive search firms

As a leader of a nonprofit, you’re probably used to working within a tight budget and with restricted resources. Finding the right executive to join your leadership team takes ample time and access to a high-caliber talent pool.  

An excellent executive search firm can partner with you and use its expertise and relatively limitless resources to find you mission and purpose-driven C-suite executives. Some of the reasons to use an executive search firm include:

  • Confidentiality (For example, if you’re looking to rehire for a filled executive position, a search firm can prevent leaks to your workforce)
  • Access to a vast number of qualified candidates 
  • Efficiency in beginning the interview and hiring processes
  • Cost-effective, customized solutions
  • Expertise in matching candidates to the right organizations
  • Unbiased third-party objectivity when searching  
  • Focused searches to meet your unique requirements 
  • Not limited to local candidate searches

Essential qualities for a nonprofit executive.

What you need in a nonprofit executive  

Hiring the right executive leadership is crucial to the success of any nonprofit organization, and a mismatched candidate could hinder your overall mission. However, without the help of an expert third-party partner, finding the right candidate could prove challenging.

As nonprofits have a very specific set of necessary qualifications to lead organizational teams, it’s important to understand the qualities and experience that excellent leaders should possess. 

For example, successful nonprofit executives will drive your mission forward, build lasting relationships with donors, establish rewarding fundraising strategies, and manage and inspire your team.

Here are some fundamental qualities that are important to find in your next nonprofit executives:

  • Passion:

You need executives who align with the purpose of your nonprofit and are passionate advocates for the causes your organization supports. 

The ideal candidates will be active in their local, regional, national, or professional communities and have a demonstrable commitment to making a positive difference.

  • Aptitude for fundraising and financial management:

The ideal candidate for any nonprofit executive position should have a track record of maximizing financial opportunities within budget constraints. Similarly, fundraising may play a huge role in a successful executive. Proof of effective fundraising and grant management experience is a must.

  • Communication skills:

A nonprofit executive should have strong and effective communication skills and an engaging communication style. Nonprofits need leaders who can inspire the workforce, donors, and board members and effectively communicate the progress and vision of the organization.

  • Visionary leadership:

Your next executives should communicate a clear and compelling vision for the future of your organization. Nonprofit leadership should be forward-thinking, purpose-driven, and share actionable plans for the future. 

  • Proven collaboration:

Successful nonprofit leadership requires the ability to collaborate with board members, employees, local communities, and other organizations. True collaboration requires embracing diversity, equality, and strong relationships with the served community.     

Top nonprofit executive search firms

The top nonprofit executive search firms have access to high-caliber candidates, proven track records, provide customized search solutions, and stand out from the competition. We’ve created a list of the best of the best to help you choose the right firm for your needs.

Local, nationwide, and global firms made our top 10 list based on their values, client and candidate relationships, and the services they provide.  

Y Scouts

Y Scouts is a purpose-based and performance-proven nonprofit executive search firm with a passion for transforming connections between executives and organizations to work that matters.

We build relationships with our clients to create a thriving and effective nonprofit from the top. We can help you find candidates that prioritize revenue growth, game-changing strategies, and increased social impact. We understand the transformative role of emerging leadership development and leaders who can build strong relationships with donors.

Join the Y Scouts Leadership Community to partner with the top nonprofit executive search firm nationwide.


Recrutierie is a nonprofit executive search firm that utilizes client-based, tailor-made searches. The firm employs a 360-degree approach to candidate searches that prioritizes client connection, personalized knowledge, analysis, quick deliverables, and collaborative decision-making.

Recruiterie has six nationwide locations, including its headquarters in greater Phoenix, and access to candidates across the U.S. The firm specializes in connecting executives with small to mid-sized businesses.

Diversified Search Group

Established 50 years ago, Diversified Search Group is a firm that specializes in nonprofit and social impact executive searches. The group uses innovative and impactful business models to partner with nonprofits and connect them with transformative leaders.

With over 180 executive search consultants, Diversified Search Group operates nationwide and in over 30 countries. This global reach allows the firm access to diverse leadership and C-suite nonprofit candidates. 

Bryant Group

Bryant Group works with clients across multiple industries, including the nonprofit sector, in executive searches, talent development, and leadership coaching. The firm promotes empathy-based leadership which is vital in the nonprofit sector.

Bryant Group was established over 36 years ago and is passionate about connecting organizations with nonprofit executives who embolden dreams and solve global issues.

Ballinger l Leafblad  

Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Ballinger l Leafblad is a consistent leader among nonprofit executive search firms. The firm’s recruitment team prides itself on approachability, decades of experience, and vast connections within the civil sector — especially in matching high-tier candidates with worthy nonprofits and foundations.

Ballinger l Leafblad uses innovative technology to inform executive searches. The firm also builds long-lasting, trusting relationships with nonprofits and C-suite candidates alike, and collaborates with their clients.

Aspen Leadership Group

Aspen Leadership Group, also known as ALG, supports philanthropic organizations in finding the right matches for their nonprofit executive needs. The firm seeks to find candidates whose visions, philosophies, and missions align with clients’ organizational needs. 

Diversity and inclusion are the focus of the group’s executive searches, and they’ve helped numerous nonprofits find the right leadership to drive their organizations forward through donor and community relationships and accelerated fundraising.

ALG works with extensive networks to find talent and each of their executive search consultants holds over 20 years of industry experience.

The Bridgespan Group

The Bridgespan Group is a nonprofit executive search firm with a global reach that includes India, Africa, and Southeast Asia. This allows the group to access talent without being limited by geographical borders.

The firm works exclusively with nonprofits and philanthropic organizations to fill C-suite roles and provides strategy advisory and consulting along with executive search services. Bridgespan employs over 500 consultants in 6 international locations and collaborates with nonprofits for social impact, leadership development, and the advancement of global philanthropy.

McCormack + Kristel

Established in 1993, McCormack + Kristel is a nonprofit executive search firm with a nationwide reach. The firm connects with mission-driven clients and places C-suite candidates with advocacy, health and human services, social justice, and foundational organizations.

The diversity-focused group conducts its executive searches through four core principles: belonging, diversity, equity, and inclusion. McCormack + Kristel’s first client was the American Foundation for Aids Research (amFAR) and they have since partnered with clients like Amnesty International and the ACLU.

Slayton Search Partners

With over 39 years as a leading executive search firm, Slayton Search Partners partners with clients across many industries, including nonprofits. 

A dedication to innovation, recruitment from a vast array of perspectives and backgrounds, and foundational values (including candidate experience, insight, performance, sophistication, and tech-enabled collaboration) stand at the forefront of Slayton Search Partners’ executive searches.

Headquartered in Chicago, the firm enjoys a global reach and with a strong commitment to diversity, looks for high-quality candidates from historically underrepresented groups.

Slayton Search Partners believes that their success is based on the positive experiences they deliver for their clients.


CarlsonBeck is a mission-motivated nonprofit executive search firm that focuses solely on the needs of nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. The firm has a nationwide and global presence and believes executive searches can be fun and inspirational.

CarlsonBeck believes in finding C-suite executives who are transformational leaders and pairs the resources of a large executive search with the relational and localized client approach of a boutique firm.

Connect with Y Scouts

Finding the right leadership for nonprofits is crucial to success — from fundraising to passion-driven work to effective communication, your C-suite executives have the power to further your mission and create a positive, lasting community impact.

You shouldn’t have to allocate your constrained resources and limited time to conducting pivotal nonprofit executive searches on your own. Nevertheless, you need to make sure you’ve paired with the right search firm to meet your unique and specific needs.

Each of these top 10 nonprofit executive search firms is committed to building lasting relationships and providing innovative and transformational leadership to the clients they serve. Yet Y Scouts stands above the rest as a purpose-based, relationships and results-driven, mighty boutique firm, connecting people and organizations with work that matters. 

Connect with Y Scouts today to find your next innovative, inspiring, and impactful nonprofit executive.