Through our All-Access Pass training program and our Communications Director Mentoring Program, I meet many nonprofit communicators who are in coordinator or assistant positions and who want very much to be promoted to the manager or director level. We also work with communications directors who are working toward VP or C-Suite (“Chief of”) jobs.
While lots of factors go into who gets those jobs, here are three tips that anyone interested in being promoted to a higher level nonprofit communications job should consider.
Demonstrate That You Can Think Strategically
A strategic thinker looks far beyond today’s to-do list to consider the needs of the organization months, even years, in advance. They connect the dots between the communications work and the larger goals of the organization. They understand the big picture and how to translate that vision into tactical assignments for junior staff.
You can’t sit back and wait for someone else to figure out your job for you. When you are at the director level or higher, it’s up to you to figure out your own job and the jobs of the people who report to you.
Take Control of Your Own Professional Development
The communications director job at nonprofits is still a relatively young role. Many of you reading this blog are the first communications director at your nonprofit. While we are doing our best at Nonprofit Marketing Guide to help you figure out what a professional development plan looks like, the reality is that there’s no set path to reaching a higher level of professionalism in this field. Once again, it’s up to you to figure out what skills you need and to find a way to get them.
We’ll try to point you in the right direction with our brand-new webinar, For Nonprofit Communications Staff Only: How to Create Your Professional Development Plan, on March 8.
Grow Your Way into Management by Growing the Team
If you talk to a communications director who’s been on the job at the same organization for a while, you’ll likely hear a story like this: “I was the only communications staff member. After a couple of years, I made the case to start growing the team. Then I was promoted to the director job once there were too many people for my boss to supervise directly.”
We’d love to hear your comments on what it took for you to move up to a senior level nonprofit communications job . . . Share your experiences in the comments!