A chief operating officer (COO) is a senior executive who typically reports to the president or chief executive officer (CEO) of the organization. The COO needs to have strong business and management experience, and also strongly believe in the nonprofit's mission.
COOs are responsible for overseeing the organization's daily operations and enhancing internal processes to help the nonprofit grow and fulfill its mission. They accomplish these goals by developing short- and long-term strategies, ensuring that systems perform at an optimal level and producing top-quality products or services while decreasing costs and increasing revenues.
Responsibilities of a COO are many and may fall into several areas, one of which centers on strategic planning. Responsible for setting and implementing short- and long-term goals, the COO must be able to think strategically in order to ensure the organization meets its financial goals and fulfills its mission.
Second, financial management and oversight represent key COO responsibilities. Tasks may include reviewing and analyzing financial reports, advising the CEO in financial decision making, leading the budgeting process, identifying and implementing cost-saving measures, pursuing new business opportunities and monitoring financial performance.
Other areas of responsibility may include human resources and operations. Tasks could include ensuring optimal staffing levels, benefits administration, legal compliance, negotiating agreements and ensuring that the office runs smoothly on a daily basis.
Although some organizations may only require a bachelor's degree, many prefer a master's of business administration. Organizations typically require that COO candidates have five to 10 years' experience in the field, including previous nonprofit management level experience.
In addition to education and prior experience, prospective employers seek a number of personal attributes for a COO. These include superior strategic thinking, strong decision-making abilities, leadership and demonstrated experience in financial planning and analysis.
According to PayScale.com, the average salary of a COO at a nonprofit organization ranges from $68,000 to $123,000 as of May 2010.
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