The nonprofit sector is unique due to its limited resources and mission-driven focus and often requires professionals to possess a diverse skill set and wear multiple hats. Professionals in this sector must be versatile, adaptable, committed to the organization’s mission, and dedicated to making a positive impact on society. Similar to for-profit enterprises, the majority of nonprofit organizations are considered small, with approximately half of all nonprofit employees working in small nonprofits. These small organizations account for 99 percent of nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees and provide employment to 45 percent of nonprofit workers. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistics of U.S. Businesses reveals that the median number of employees for a nonprofit employer business is four, thus often requiring nonprofit professionals to possess a diverse skill set and wear multiple hats.

In addition to fulfilling their primary roles, nonprofit professionals may take on additional responsibilities, such as fundraising, marketing, grant writing, event planning, and volunteer management. They may also manage relationships with donors, stakeholders, and community partners. As a result, nonprofit professionals must have a broad range of skills and be comfortable working in a fast-paced, dynamic environment.

Moreover, the nature of the nonprofit sector often means that professionals must be highly collaborative, as they work together towards a shared mission and vision. Therefore, collaboration requires effective communication, teamwork, and navigating complex relationships with multiple stakeholders. Furthermore, nonprofit professionals must also be committed to social impact and be passionate about the organization’s mission, which often drives their work. Through my research, it became evident that nonprofit professionals prefer a convenor who can effectively fulfill the roles of organizer and administrator in collaborative efforts. Despite these roles having distinct responsibilities, the ability to effectively perform both is highly valued due to nonprofit professionals’ many hats and responsibilities. Therefore, in Part II of our discussion on the convenor’s skill set, we will delve deeper into the convening leader’s role as an administrator.

In collaborative endeavors, an administrator is responsible for supervising and directing the daily operations of the collaboration, guaranteeing that all parties are working toward the common goals and objectives. The administrator’s responsibilities include facilitating productive communication and collaboration among stakeholders, managing resources and finances, setting project timelines and milestones, and ensuring that the strategic objectives remain on schedule and achieve their intended outcomes. Top of Form

As an administrator of a collaborative effort, the convening leader may be responsible for establishing and maintaining communication channels between stakeholders, setting timelines and milestones for the project, managing budgets and resources, and ensuring that all stakeholders are meeting their responsibilities. They may also be involved in resolving conflicts that arise and finding ways to mitigate the conflict by helping the stakeholders keep their focus on the strategic outcomes. Establishing strong member collaboration through training and development is another significant administrator responsibility. To ensure the success of a collaborative effort, the administrator must provide appropriate training and development opportunities to all members involved in the project. Training may include the initial onboarding process and ongoing training and development to enhance the skills and knowledge of the team. Practical training and development programs can help improve communication, foster collaboration, and increase productivity among members. Additionally, such programs can help identify and address any knowledge or skill gaps hindering the project’s success.

The role of the administrator as the convening leader is crucial for the success of the collaboration, as the convening leader plays a key role in ensuring that all stakeholders are aligned and working towards a common goal. Effective administrators must have strong organizational, communication, and leadership skills and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and manage multiple priorities simultaneously. The specific tasks of an administrator in collaborative efforts may vary depending on the nature of the collaboration and the stakeholders’ needs. However, here are some common tasks that an administrator may be responsible for:

  1. Establishing and maintaining communication channels between stakeholders;
  2. Defining and communicating the goals and objectives of the collaboration;
  3. Developing and managing budgets and resources for the collaboration;
  4. Establishing timelines and milestones for the project and ensuring that they are met;
  5. Ensuring that all stakeholders are meeting their responsibilities and contributing to the collaboration;
  6. Facilitating collaboration and communication among stakeholders, including resolving conflicts that arise;
  7. Ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations;
  8. Analyzing data and performance metrics to identify areas for improvement and make recommendations for changes to the collaboration;
  9. Providing regular updates and reports to stakeholders to keep them informed of progress and any issues that arise; and
  10. Developing and implementing policies and procedures to ensure the smooth operation of the collaboration.

These are just a few examples of the many tasks that an administrator may perform in collaborative efforts. Convening leaders who possess the necessary skill set and lead complex collaborations can significantly contribute to the success of collaborative efforts. They can help maintain focus, increase productivity, and ultimately achieve a more significant impact in meeting the goals and objectives of all stakeholders involved because community matters.

In Community,

Dr. Pat

Dr. Patricia A. Clary is a syndicated columnist who consults with nonprofit and business sector partnerships that promote strategic community impact agendas to solve complex societal issues through governance, collaboration, and convening leadership. Connect with Dr. Clary at, LinkedIn, Facebook PatriciaAClaryPhD, or [email protected]. ©2023 All Rights Reserved.

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Patricia A. Clary, Ph.D.

Columnist Community Matters / Collaboration / Convening Leadership / Governance / Systems-Thinking