Voices from the Third Sector

The Mystery Behind Great Nonprofit Leaders

Image: Sailom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


If you are a nonprofit junkie like me, then you understand why I truly admire the passion and

courage of nonprofit leaders. These individuals dedicate their lives not only to serve others

but also to be accountable for their organization’s impact.


Nonprofit leaders walk, jog, and run an unpredictable path. So, what’s the mystery behind

great nonprofit leaders? They can all do the following:

Face Adversity

Nonprofit leaders fight uphill battles. Whether it’s attaining fundraising goals or dealing with

an unruly board member, these folks know how to face adversity with grace. They also must

be ready to tackle challenges with the public and private sectors.

Reflection: When’s the last time you faced a challenge? How did you handle the situation?

Understand Patience

Great leaders understand that patience is a virtue. Not everything in life happens when

we want it to occur. Maybe that major gift donor is reluctant to give money. Instead of

complaining, a leader develops strategies to understand the donor’s reservations. S/he would

ask questions and address the concerns of the donor.

Reflection: How are you practicing patience? What can you do today to be more patient with


Exude Persistence

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. Nonprofit leaders possess crazy endurance

for success. No, we may have not received that multi-million grant this year. But how can

we prepare for next year’s grant cycle? Leaders prepare themselves for the long haul. The

process may be difficult, but leaders understand that the reward at the end of the tunnel

outweighs the struggles.

Reflection: What difficulties are you experiencing right now? How will you be persistent in

your actions?

Welcome Diverse Viewpoints

Nonprofit leaders must accept various standpoints. Leaders don’t have all the answers.

For example, advisory committees can provide an avenue for leaders to obtain different

perspectives on a particular issue. It’s important for individuals to seek out and listen to

alternative opinions.

Reflection: How will you invite diverse ideas into your conversations? How will you avoid



Nonprofit leaders are extraordinary people making a difference in our communities. What

are you doing to become a great nonprofit leader? Check out these webinars to improve your




Shayla Price


About the Author: Shayla Price is the Executive Director of the National Search Dog Alliance. She also teaches the online course Scholarship Winner: Earn Free Money for College. Follow her @shaylaprice.


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  • Betty

    Shayla, just what I needed to read. In the New Year, I want to focus on my patience. I signed up for meditation class after reading this post. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Shayla Price

      Thanks for reading. I wish you all the best in the New Year!

  • Pet Chance Team

    “Understand patience” is an interesting one. Entrepreneurs are, by nature, not patient. (I’m not.) But you didn’t say nonprofit leaders “Are patient.” You said they “understand patience”. I’d say there’s a difference. Although I’m not patient, I have learned to remove the rose-colored glasses, plan more realistically, and evaluate results with more data and less emotion. These don’t prevent me from wanting things to happen quickly and perfectly - but they help me understand when they don’t!

    (Did you know that stress occurs primarily when people do not have control of something or if they perceive they have no control? So then - understanding patience *definitely* helps put you back “in control” in many cases. Try it - you’ll like it!)

    • Shayla Price

      Thanks for sharing your insight! Patience comes in many shapes and forms. Whether you possess patience or not, it’s important to understand how others view patience. You make valid points!