13 Top Skills That Make Nonprofit Professionals Invaluable Team Assets

13 Top Skills That Make Nonprofit Professionals Invaluable Team Assets

Forbes Nonprofit Council

Nov 23, 2021,08:15am EST

The needs of a business, be it a for-profit or a nonprofit, are rarely static. Whether an organization is making process changes or handling new challenges, nonprofit leaders need to ensure their teams are continually maintaining their current skills and learning new ones.

Developing your team’s skills is vital to keeping up with industry trends and changes, but knowing what skills will provide the most value is not as clear as it used to be. To help narrow down the list, 13 members of Forbes Nonprofit Council share beneficial skills that can make a nonprofit professional a valuable asset to their team and the organization as a whole.

1. The Ability To Anticipate Stakeholder Needs

The needs of nonprofit stakeholders are changing constantly. In order to address them properly, one needs to know what these needs are. Engaging a person who is on the lookout for trends and what’s coming so that the organization’s offering can be available the moment the need is identified will be invaluable to any team. It requires discipline and patience, but it’s worth it! – Magdalena Nowicka MookICF (International Coach Federation)

2. A Balance Of Organization And Interpersonal Skills

I think people often underestimate and undervalue the need for a team member that balances being supremely well-organized with having excellent interpersonal skills. It is often the difference between success and failure for linking the constituent parts of your own organization and in key external relationships. – Shane RyanAvast Foundation


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Forbes Leadership00:2101:123. A Growth Mindset

It is imperative that nonprofit leaders and teams are willing to look at obstacles as opportunities to cultivate a culture of curiosity. No one knows it all and no one should pretend to. Being curious and being proactive about exploring that curiosity is invaluable on small teams where we’re frequently asked to wear many hats and do things outside of our comfort zone. – Christina AllrichBeta Gamma Sigma

4. The Ability To Patiently Teach And Train

The ability to teach and train with patience is an invaluable asset to any team. It’s so important to have someone on your team who is always able to teach incoming team members the skills they need—and how to improve on what they are good at. Consequently, having someone on your team to pass down the knowledge of your nonprofit—and how to work in it—to new members will keep your nonprofit mission alive. – Gloria HorsleyOpen to Hope

5. Empathy And Communication Skills

The most important skill is empathy, followed by communication. Nonprofit professionals should explore skill-building opportunities to strengthen their empathic communication and better understand various communications styles. I’ve found that rather than focus on work styles or personality types, it is far more beneficial to look for opportunities that focus on how people communicate. – Linda Goler BlountBlack Women’s Health Imperative

6. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a key skill in any industry. Individuals who are naturally curious about processes and take the time to research them and learn how to make their processes more efficient are vital to growing an organization. I really appreciate those who think through problems and present solutions. It saves time and helps everyone to focus on serving our community better. – Kimberly LewisGoodwill Industries of East Texas, Inc.

7. The Ability To Bring Different Stakeholders Together

The skill and ability to convene stakeholder groups across demographic, geographic and other boundaries is essential to tackling the complex and wicked societal problems that most nonprofit organizations face. Convening others requires elevating a shared purpose, establishing credibility across groups and coming to a consensus on needs and the best ways to address those needs collectively. – Christopher WashingtonFranklin University

8. Social Media Marketing

Millennials and Gen Z are important and upcoming donor segments that have experienced social media since its birth. Social media marketing is critical, so a basic understanding of social media is no longer enough. Your organization is competing with other worthy causes every second of every day. It’s imperative that you create unique and vibrant social media profiles across multiple platforms. – Jessica HallAmerican Eagle Foundation

9. Positivity

It’s always great to have a team “cheerleader” or that colleague who is eternally positive no matter the challenge. They always see the glass half full (and often overflowing), brighten the Zoom screen every meeting and approach problems with energy, enthusiasm and a likely solution. We have one and we call her the “fixer!” – Victoria BurkhartThe More Than Giving Company

10. Intellectual Curiosity

Intellectual curiosity is at the root of learning new skills and expanding on existing ones. The desire to learn is one skill that is difficult to teach but incredibly important for leaders to inspire others to aspire to. There really is no more important skill than innate intellectual curiosity. Just a little bit can go a long way. – Clayton HollingsworthThe Lamplighter School

11. Financial Skills

One skill that is needed by both nonprofit and for-profit professionals is understanding the profile of a budget. All organizations will need to have people who know how to read a profit and loss statement, what items can be purchased with capital budgets, what environmental regulations are associated with your organization and what the costs are to support adhering to those regulations. These financial skills are key. – Tameka WomackClayton State University

12. Being A Subject Matter Expert

Becoming a subject matter expert (SME) takes work. Find those one, two or three professional attributes that set you apart from your peers. Use technology like Google Alerts to stay on top of trending topics and newsworthy stories. This will help you stand out and help your organization receive more respect and recognition. – Aaron AlejandroTexas FFA Foundation

13. The Ability To Identify Coming Trends

I value team members who can identify trends and changes that may be coming down the road. Many times we can get tunnel vision, but being able to look beyond the current status quo shows there’s hidden talent within a team member. Building an organization requires being able to prepare for the long term and that means understanding where donors and consumers are heading in the future. – Vipe DesaiOcean Institute

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By Dave Ferris
Dave Ferris Career Design Consultant