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An executive assistant employed by a nonprofit must have a strong passion for the work that is accomplished within the organization as well as a working knowledge of the daily operations of the management and leadership. This is an essential position that supports high-level officers and their essential job tasks. Those with a passion for advocacy and community work and a gift for organization and adaptability may be well-suited to this position.
Committment to the Organization
All staff members of a nonprofit are expected to demonstrate a commitment to the mission, philosophy and vision of the organization. The executive assistant must develop mutual trust and build a courteous, respectful and compassionate team environment with other staff members, organizational leaders and clients. The executive assistant should also be a strong supporter of the organization's cause and must be comfortable collaborating with other agencies for the benefit of the community.
Confidentiality and Development
In the course of work, an executive assistant will be privy to confidential and sensitive information. It is imperative that this individual adhere to the organization’s code of ethics and maintain confidentiality at all times. Trustworthiness and sensitivity are essential qualities for this worker. Depending on the organization, the executive assistant may be required to complete ongoing staff development to improve personal and professional skills necessary for the position. This may be accomplished by regularly reading professional literature, participating in staff meetings and in-service training sessions and sharing materials and information with colleagues.
The executive assistant is often the first point of contact for partners, collaborators and/or clients and serves as their ongoing advocate. Positive interactions are necessary to communicate with these diverse contacts. This individual is also responsible for providing high-level support to board members, the executive director and other programming personnel. Depending on the size of the organization and the job duties of other staff members, executive assistants will be charged with completing diverse administrative tasks, including preparing correspondence; greeting visitors; answering telephone lines and taking messages; preparing reports and in-house publications; monitoring email; scheduling and conducting appointments and meetings; tracking information in databases; supporting programming staff with paperwork and documentation; and creating and maintaining systems to ensure an organized office environment.
Forging Positive Relationships
One of the primary focuses for the executive director and board of directors is to engage community members, volunteers, business owners and philanthropists in the mission of the organization. The executive assistant is responsible for assisting in this endeavor. He must be committed to providing a positive experience for potential partners by being courteous and accommodating in person, over the phone and through written correspondence.
An executive assistant may also be charged with communicating the essential nature of the organization to these individuals through preparing presentations, reports, appeals, newsletters and other special mailings. It should be the responsibility of all staff members to daily demonstrate their passion and commitment for the organization's work, but even more so for the executive assistant because she will likely have more communication with these individuals, who could make a positive impact on the organization.
Some organizations require candidates to possess some college and business office experience, while others prefer their executive assistant candidates to hold a Bachelor of Arts degree with experience working or volunteering within a nonprofit agency. Degrees and specializations required vary by organization. For example, a child advocacy organization may accept executive assistant candidates with degrees in elementary education or adolescent psychology. Regardless of educational experience, all candidates must possess an enthusiastic demeanor, flexible and adaptable attitude, strong organizational skills, a desire to be cross-trained in other aspects of the organization and a personality that enjoys working with others. Professional oral and written communication skills are a must, along with proficiency in basic computer software.