Link to this page

How to Write a Job Description

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Why write a job description for positions in your business, nonprofit, or ministry?

How to write a job description: #WritingTips and Writing how-tos for #ContentWriting with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter

Simple: you want to get things done.

Good job descriptions are especially helpful for smaller organizations because staff, volunteers, and boards wear so many hats. By putting down a job description on paper, you’re forced to think through who is going to do it and when they’re going to do it.

Defining roles eliminates confusion and inertia and creates momentum. Job descriptions also cultivate an environment in which all the players know expectations. Finally, you’re protecting yourself and your organization. (Tip: ask your legal counsel to review job descriptions in order to protect you, the organization, and the board.)

What is a job description?

It’s a snapshot of a position’s responsibilities and the skills needed for it. The description outlines what the worker contributes so that your organization fulfills its mission.

When do you need to write a job description?

Not just when you’re posting a position on a nonprofit job board. Use a job description for paid positions, volunteer roles, committees or teams (including short-term commitments such as organizing events), and board members. Create them and tweak them at least annually (if not more often) during your annual meeting, staff meetings, and volunteer orientations in order to clarify everybody’s role.

Checklist of Job Description Elements

A good job description is big on clarity. It’s only as long as it needs to be. This checklist will help you include key elements when you write a job description for your nonprofit.


Give the position a name that reflects its responsibilities.

Position Summary

Use one (two at most) sentence to describe the position.


List the position’s functions. Use bullet points to identify between five and 10 responsibilities, beginning each one with a present-tense, action verb such as, "recruit 10 annual sponsors for events" or "load up new donor contact information into fundraising software weekly," specifying frequency where possible. Indicate the percentage of the worker's time to be spent with each task.

Checklist of Position Specifics


Indicate if the position is on site (and where) or remote


Indicate if the position is full-time, part-time, volunteer, or cyclical


If your organization has its work divided into different program areas, specify which area this position serves. Answering this question helps the candidate, employee, or volunteer understand how her role fits into the whole unit.


Indicate who the worker will report to

Checklist of Position Requirements

Mandatory qualifications

What does the position require?

Preferred qualifications

Distinguish between qualifications that are mandatory and those that are preferred, including skills, years of experience, certifications, licenses, education level, and necessary technical proficiencies. Faith-based organizations should link to their statement of faith to ensure that candidates understand their world view and organizational culture.

Tip: Include an Organizational Overview

List your organization’s niche, mission, goals, headquarters location, kinds of programming, and website. Interested candidates can delve further into specifics on your website.

Tip: Create a Response Procedure

Describe to whom candidates should respond and what to include: a cover letter, resume, completed application. Indicate the means by they should respond, whether by email, surface mail, or phone.

More on strategic planning for nonprofits

How to create writing guidelines for you, your staff, and contributors ...

Primer on strategic planning for nonprofits ...

Elements of a nonprofit strategic plan ...

How to create a business plan for nonprofit organizations ...

Pre-writing steps to writing a business plan ...

Writing business plan elements: what should you include?

Business plan writing tips to make the process easy and quick ...

What's your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?

Your elevator speech: explain what you do in 30 seconds ...

See more writing tips on our Strategic Planning Pinterest board...

Return from How to Write a Job Description to Nonprofit Copywriter home

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Powered by SBI! Learn more here.
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Search This Site

Share This Page


Named to 2022 Writer's Digest list

Get Free Writing Tips

Stop Wasting Time!

Grab your exclusive FREE guide, "5 Simple Writing Tips You Can Put to Use in 10 Minutes or Less"

XML RSSSubscribe To This Site
  • follow us in feedly
  • Add to My Yahoo!