PMA Consulting, LLC

The Nonprofit Professional – 10 Key Skills to Analyze in Your Staff

As organizations make action plans for the year (including long-term strategic plans), it’s critical that a nonprofit involve its employees. A good first step to analyze how each individual can help move the organization toward its stated goals is to have everyone participate in a professional skills analysis. Members of a nonprofit can assess their skills and frame action steps in order to improve and incorporate said skills into a mutually beneficial position for individual and organization.

Just as an organization writes a vision statement covering achievements over a 3 to 5-year time frame, PMA recommends individuals take a similar approach. Writing individual statements that address both organizational and career goals of the employee help better define how everyone moves forward. While there might be additional attributes an individual hopes to incorporate, PMA has found 10 key skills that should be analyzed for any nonprofit professional:

  1. LEARNING PLAN: The learning plan should be both a short-term and a long-term plan. It can include certifications, continuing formal education, and reading that the individual hopes to complete.
  2. PERSONAL ORGANIZATION: Each person should have a defined system of how to capture, prioritize and assess tasks at hand.
  3. LEADERSHIP: This category should assess an individual’s leadership style of project work, committee work, or one-on-one leadership.
  4. NETWORKING: For the benefit of the organization and the individual, there should be evidence of civic, community, volunteer, and professional organization involvement.
  5. SPEAKING: While speaking in front of large groups might not be a vital component for every position, it is necessary that an individual be able to clearly communicate the purpose and vision of a nonprofit organization to those in the community. Each individual should make an assessment of this component.
  6. WRITING: Just as speaking is a critical communication component, writing is a skill that members of an organization should strive to constantly improve upon. Examples of writing styles include narrative, persuasive, business and personal writing.
  7. LISTENING/CONVERSATION: Especially for those individuals that might be meeting with donors or stakeholders, it is important that active listening and note-taking are included in a skills assessment.
  8. FINANCIAL ACUMEN: While individuals do not need to be financial experts, someone representing a nonprofit organization should be able to comfortably discuss the organization’s budget, while understanding key trends both regionally and nationally that could affect the organization.
  9. SECTOR: Members of an organization should have an understanding of trends occurring within their particular sector. This knowledge can come from different media resources and communication from others within the organization.
  10. NONPROFIT: While each sector has unique strengths and challenges, the philanthropic community as a whole has trends that could affect individual organizations. Individuals should have a working understanding of key trends happening both within their community and throughout the nation.