Nonprofit Competency Model for Inclusive Leadership

There are a variety of routes to a career in the nonprofit sector. People become leaders by leveraging undergraduate and graduate degrees, working their way up through organizations, and, particularly in the case of board service, through personal and professional connections. Once you’re in, performance and promotion practices vary widely in method and quality.

Cover of the Nonprofit Competency Model for Inclusive LeadershipThe paths to these positions have contributed to a sector whose leadership is lacking in diversity — especially racial diversity — and by extension, inclusive leadership practices. Because competency models rely on KSAOs, they have the potential to contribute to a stronger, more diverse sector that leads with inclusiveness.

A Resource to Support a More Inclusive Workforce

Many frameworks for nonprofit leadership already exist in the field. What we have done is to take the collective wisdom of many organizations and tools — and our own decades of experience in nonprofit leadership — and integrated it all into two summative and interrelated tracks (one for nonprofit staff leaders, one for board members), with an emphasis on KSAOs that contribute to cultures of belonging. The competencies are the same for both staff and board members, rather it is the behaviors that vary depending on each person’s role.

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Key Definitions

The knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) that are required for effective performance in a particular job or profession.

Competency Model
A collection of competencies that are relevant to performance in a particular job, job family, or functional area.

Competency Dimension
One of a cluster of closely related competencies.

The observable activities demonstrated by individuals proficient in a particular competency.

Sources: Campion et al., 2011; Shippmann et al., 2000

Reuse and Licensing Information

The Competency Model for Nonprofit Inclusive Leadership represents a unique compilation of material from existing sources, expertise from Johnson Center team members and colleagues, and original writing and research. As such, the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University asserts copyright in compilation for the Competency Model for Nonprofit Inclusive Leadership. Cited content included in the model is subject to the copyright of the source material.

We encourage you to engage with, adapt, share, and otherwise use this competency model to advance your own work and partnerships in philanthropy. The Competency Model for Nonprofit Inclusive Leadership is available for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

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