From the thrift store sanctuaries of Goodwill Industries to the poverty-fighting efforts of Catholic Charities, the impact of religious not-for-profit organizations continues to have a profound effect across the nation. Behind the scenes, executive directors go beyond taking a management role, and wear many hats – from overseeing public relations to serving as a company liaison. Many are viewed in the same manner as a company CEO, and hold one of the highest level positions within a religious non-profit organization.

Job Activities & Responsibilities

One of the primary roles of an executive director of a non-profit is to oversee the various heads of departments within an organization, which often includes marketing, accounting, fundraising, and program development. Directors of a religious not-for-profit are generally expected to follow and adhere to the mission, guidelines or belief system of an organization. Job requirements may target applicants that have a strong Christian faith, have completed years of ministry, and/or belong to a certain church or denomination. Executive directors often meet with a board to keep members regularly informed on the operational details of an organization. When issues and challenges arise, they work with others to create a strategic solution.

The day-to-day responsibilities of a director of a religious not-for-profit often involve:

  • Setting and implementing plans for annual income goals
  • Assessing and establishing the needs of targeted groups
  • Speaking to donors, reporters, community leaders and government representatives
  • Actively participating in fundraising activities, from attending to hosting events


Although some organizations hire lower-level directors holding a bachelor’s degree, executive directors who assume a role in larger, more widespread religious organizations are expected to have completed at least a master’s degree program in religion, theology, or a relevant field. Depending on the mission of an organization, some applicants encounter increased opportunities by completing a dual degree program in theology and a relevant field, such as social work, counseling, law or psychology.

Career Salary

The salary of the director of a religious non-profit varies depending on a variety of factors that includes size of an organization, budget limitations, years of experience, and number of annual fundraising activities. Professionals in an executive director position are generally paid the highest salaries within a not-for-profit organization. Budgets especially play an important part, as many non-profit executive directors earn a median salary between $50,000 and $75,000 yearly when working for organizations with annual budgets ranging from $250,000 to $999,000.

To get an idea of various salaries earned by executive director positions for religious organizations, review the following employment openings listed in 2018:

  • Family Promise of Hudson County in Jersey City, NJ offered to pay a part-time executive $25 an hour.
  • A Director of Retail at Salvation Army ARC position advertised for $45,000 – $60,000 a year.
  • An opening for the Eastside YMCA in Rochester, NY offered $89,560 – $93,500 a year.
  • The only full-service wellness center for the homeless, the Eugene Mission in Oregon, advertised a salary of $80,000 – $95,000 a year.
  • A position as Director of Gift Planning for the California South Division of The Salvation Army was advertised as paying $90,000 – $120,000 a year.