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Nonprofit Careers: Program Director Salary

April 17, 2018

A female program director explains her strategy to team members at a conference table.

In a nonprofit organization, the program director or manager oversees the coordination and administration of programs that support the organization’s mission. This role involves a broad range of responsibilities and opportunities, including any objectives, strategies and goals that support “efficient, well-run projects that have high impact on the communities the programs target,” according to Commongood Careers, a nonprofit search firm.

The following sections explore more details about the roles and responsibilities of a nonprofit program director, as well as the salary, job outlook and qualifications.

What Does a Program Director Do?

A program director carries out a wide range of tasks that further an organization’s mission. Because no two missions are the same, responsibilities will vary from organization to organization, although there are some common sets of duties and responsibilities in this role for nonprofits.

The HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector in Canada splits duties and responsibilities into five major areas.

1.    Plan the program.

The program director plans delivery of the overall program and activities. This includes developing strategic initiatives and long-term goals that help make the program more successful. Other tasks include developing an annual budget and operating plan, developing a program evaluation framework to analyze strengths and weaknesses and developing funding proposals.

2.    Organize the program.

The program director ensures that program activities are in line with policies and procedures of the organization, as well as relevant legislation and professional standards. Other tasks include documenting program activities and collecting and maintaining client records for statistical purposes.

3.    Staff the program.

Along with the executive director, the program director recruits, interviews and selects staff. Related tasks include implementing human resources policies, procedures and practices, as well as ensuring that personnel files are maintained and kept confidential. Other tasks include establishing and implementing a performance-management process for staff and engaging volunteers for appropriate program activities.

4.    Lead the program.

The program director provides direction, input and feedback to program staff, including ensuring that each member receives orientation and training. Other tasks include communicating with clients and other stakeholders to gain community support for the program, collaborating with other managers and coordinating delivery of services among program activities.

5.    Control the program.

The program director performs a wide range of tasks to ensure program activities are performing as planned. There are many financial responsibilities, including monitoring and approving expenditures, ensuring the program operates within the approved budget, monitoring cash flow projections and actual cash flow, ensuring financial records are updated and overseeing invoices. Other tasks included writing reports, evaluating program activities and identifying and monitoring risks associated with program activities.

Program Director Salary and Outlook

The median salary for nonprofit program directors is $52,551, based on real-time data from PayScale at time of publication.

Job outlook for nonprofit program directors is positive. “Leadership and strong management skills are continuously increasing in importance to nonprofits,” according to Commongood Careers. “As more nonprofits embrace the importance of well-run and efficient organizations, the focus on promoting leadership and management—and compensating it accordingly—has increased in prevalence.”

Official salary and outlook data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is not available for this career. A similar career title tracked by the BLS is social and community service managers, who have a median annual wage of $64,680 and a 2016-2026 job outlook of 18 percent.

Qualifications for Program Directors

Positions generally require at least two years of work experience, according to Commongood Careers. Experience in management or nonprofit administration is preferred.

Educational requirements will vary. Similar to social and community service managers, prospective program directors will likely need a bachelor’s degree in social work, public or business administration, public health or a related field. Some employers will also require a master’s degree.

Becoming a Program Director

Grace College’s online Master of Science in Nonprofit Management prepares graduates for advancement in roles such as program director and other management positions. This faith-based program applies biblical values to content. Graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills to succeed in marketing communication, applying technology, creating and training staff, raising funds and improving efficiency within an organization.