The non-profit sector has a high demand for good leaders. But the unique nature of the “Third Sector” of the economy means that those who want to be successful must develop important leadership skills for the non-profit sector.

Those who lead a non-profit share many of the skills of those in private industry. Many managers in business decide to make the switch to social services and the non-profit sector out of a desire to focus their career on helping others.

An online master’s degree program in leadership studies that concentrates on nonprofit leadership is perfectly suited for busy professionals who want a management-level job at a non-profit. Such a program can prepare graduates for the challenges ahead.

Type of Skills Needed by Non-Profit Leaders

Non-profit leaders need a unique blend of skills that incorporate traditional “Third Sector” skills with the modern, tech-driven business world. These skills include the following.

Business Skills

While profits are not the ultimate goal, non-profit managers still need skills in business skills such as budgeting, finance, strategic planning, resource allocation and risk management.


Non-profit leaders need excellent written and oral communication skills needed by leaders in all areas. They also need to have the communication skills needed to become an effective fundraiser who can explain an organization’s cause and why it deserves funding.

Technology and Data Skills

As technology becomes more sophisticated, software systems can now drive better decision-making by analyzing vast amounts of data. In the non-profit sector, examples would include analyzing the best fundraising campaign strategies or messaging that worked well with specific donor groups.


This is especially important in the non-profit sector. This is an area that attracts those who literally want to change the world, or at least their corner of it. Successful non-profit leaders have a clear vision of how their organization can change lives and make an impact on society.

What You Need to Become a Non-Profit Leader

Most leaders in non-profit organizations have a master’s degree, just like their counterparts in the private business sector. In many cases, people who work in the private sector decide they want to transition to non-profit work.

The demand is certainly there. The number of non-profit managers is expected to increase 18% by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s much faster than most professions. Much of the job growth in the profession can be tied into the aging U.S. population and the need for more medical and human services support.

Non-profit managers also are paid well, with the mean annual salary reaching $71,670 in May 2018. Job titles include executive director of a non-profit organization, program director, communications director, fundraising manager and community services director.

What You Learn in a Master’s Degree Program

A master’s degree program that focuses on non-profit leadership prepares graduates with expertise in the categories mentioned above. At Geneva College, program outcomes include high levels of competency in:

Effective communication methodsEthical leadership practicesDecision-making techniquesApplicable laws and regulationsFundraising strategies.

The non-profit sector is a rare occupation that is both in demand and gives you a chance to spend a career serving others. For working professionals looking to make the switch into the non-profit sector, online programs offer an even more convenient way of doing so.

Do you have questions about our online Master's degrees? You may find it helpful to watch a webinar hosted by Student Recruitment Manager, Ryan Buchar.

Click "WATCH NOW" to register for our free online master’s degree informational webinar.

Ryan Buchar
Student Recruitment Manager

Megan Radel Student Recruitment Manager Geneva College

Megan Radel
Student Recruitment Manager

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