The secrets behind modern charity leadership

No one thing makes an outstanding leader or leadership team. It is a combination of skills, knowledge, experience and tenacity that can make a leader great.

In the non-profit sector, this is even more true. A charity leader has to be all of these leadership attributes and more.

charity leadershipDecisiveness

A crucial trait in any leader, charity leadership needs to be able to make tough decisions quickly and satisfactorily. Charities, by necessity, run a tight ship financially, so any decision has to be shrewd and properly thought out.

The best leadership also ensures that they take into account the opinions of others and facts and statistics that could be relevant to decision making.


Any charity needs a clear and concise structure. This allows volunteers, staff and management to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. Charities that have clear roles at all levels of management often have some of the highest success rates.

As charities are made up of people from many walks of life – experts, grassroots fundraisers, board members and trustees – each must know their role and function within the organisation.

Building a dream team

Any organisation leader knows that you are only as strong as the people working for you. Many charities thrive by growing and developing their team. Talent is crucial, but fierce determination is also an integral part of bringing together a successful team.

Many charity leaders branch out from traditional recruitment methods to hire based on personality and talent rather than qualifications. This can be an excellent way to open up a hiring process to ensure that an organisation finds the best minds, regardless of background.

Networking and collaboration

For any organisation to thrive, there needs to be collaboration across all areas of the entity. This is especially true with charitable organisations. Many top leaders ensure that there are plenty of opportunities across all sections of their charity to engage and foster innovation.

This can include hosting regular meetings across charity leadership, right down to the grassroots members of the team. Charity work thrives and innovates when all members of the team collaborate and contribute.


Technology is changing, growing and improving every day in 2021. No organisation can thrive without making the best use of the technology available to them, both in their practical operations and administratively.

Many tech leaders are focusing on technology as the way of the future. An excellent example of this is Tej Kholi, leader of the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute, who are utilising the newest technologies in their ambitious goal to eradicate preventable corneal blindness.

Social media

Social media is a powerful tool for any charity. Some of the best charities around have seen the potential and embraced many different social media platforms. For charity leadership platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook can be a great way to show potential donors a human face and get the message out there.

Social media also has an incredible reach, allowing charities to educate the public about their endeavours and encourage donations and fundraising efforts.

A focus on mental health

Leading a charity is a high-pressure job. Charity leaders such as Boris Pomroy, CEO of Mentor, put a focus on protecting and promoting mental wellbeing while working. This includes taking time for themselves throughout the day and engaging in mindfulness and self-care.

Remembering that we are only human and can make mistakes and have bad days is a universal thing. Increasingly, charity leadership is recognising the need to protect mental health at all levels of an organisation.


For a charity to be successful, it needs to inspire and motivate. From donors to staff to volunteers, a charity depends on the passion of the people who contribute to it. Good charity leadership involves setting an example to inspire others. Some charity leaders actively engage in fundraisers such as charity runs to inspire those around them and lead by example.

Having clear goals is another way that charity leadership can inspire those around them. A clear message and purpose help prospective donors see the potential for a charity, whether that is eradicating world hunger or curing cancer. Many of the most effective charities have strong goals with clear methods to achieve these goals.

Show appreciation

Showing appreciation to donors. fundraisers and volunteers alike is key to ensuring commitment. appreciating volunteers is imperative as it reduces turnover, which can be very costly for charities, and strengthens dedication within the organisation. This helps to foster a positive public image and can attract additional volunteers to join the cause. Additionally, any good charity leadership knows that a donor is more than the money they can bring to their charity. This is why many top charities ensure plenty of post-donation communication with donors and fundraisers to ensure that they feel appreciated.

Many donors like to see how and where their donations are being used, and this can be a great tool to inspire further donations and contributions. For instance, many wildlife conservation charities have an option to adopt a specific animal. The donor then receives updates and photos to show how their adopted animal is getting on, allowing them to feel truly a part of the process.