Introducing the YNPN Boston Competency Model for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders

By YNPN Boston Leadership Team


As an organization that represents young nonprofit professionals, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what we and our colleagues need to advance our careers. After a lot of research and reflection, we’ve developed a framework for the skills and knowledge that we believe young leaders need to be successful in the sector.

The YNPN Boston Competency Model for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders is made up of five pillars: Effective Communication, Personal Management, Leadership Development, Technical Skills, and Sector Savvy. We view the first four as core competencies that are essential for young professionals in any field, and the fifth (Sector Savvy) as unique or particularly important for the nonprofit sector. Each pillar is further broken down into specific competencies that describe the necessary skills and knowledge related to that category.

For YNPN Boston, this model will drive the professional development trainings and content that we produce and share to close the skills gap between what young professionals know and what organizations need. Make sure you’re subscribed to our listserv and following us on social media to stay up to date on all the professional development opportunities coming your way.

For you, we hope the competency model can serve as a tool for planning your own career development.

As a starting point, use the competency model and the detailed descriptions below (or download a PDF copy) to assess your skills. For each pillar, ask yourself:

  • Which competency is your biggest strength? How can/are you demonstrating that on your resume and in job interviews?
  • Which competency would you like to develop the most? How will you do that in the next year?


Here are a few YNPN Boston blog posts to help you on your competency-building journey:


Special thanks to YNPN Triangle NC for inspiring us with their competency model at the 2017 YNPN National Conference!

YNPN Boston Competency Model for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders

Detailed Descriptions

Effective Communication

  • Difficult Conversations - Giving and receiving feedback, negotiation, resolving conflict
  • Interviewing - Interviewing for jobs, and conducting job interviews
  • Public Speaking/Presenting - Speaking professionally and persuasively
  • Relationship Building - Networking, collaboration, teamwork
  • Writing - Writing professionally and persuasively


Personal Management

  • Career Planning/Mapping - Identifying career goals and steps necessary to achieve those goals
  • Commitment to Equity, Diversity & Inclusion - Personal commitment to the values of equity, diversity & inclusion
  • Personal Branding - Presenting yourself online and offline, unique skills, strengths, and values
  • Self-Awareness - Capacity for reflection and a clear perception of your strengths, weaknesses, etc.
  • Self-Care - Work/life balance, physical and emotional wellness
  • Self-Management - Time management, organization, accountability, etc.


Leadership Development

  • Influencing Without Authority - Persuading others that do not report to you, managing up
  • Managing People & Projects - Supervision, delegation, organization, decision-making, performance management
  • Meeting Planning & Facilitation - Agenda building, guiding the group, capturing action items
  • Mentorship - Finding and engaging with a mentor, mentoring others
  • Motivating & Supporting Others - Providing encouragement to others
  • Strategic Thinking - The ability to imagine what could be and how to make it happen


Technical Skills

  • Budget Management - Understanding, developing, and monitoring budgets
  • Data Management & Analysis - Understanding the value of data, ability to analyze and interpret data
  • Social Media - Using social media platforms for professional purposes
  • Computer Skills - Ability to use text documents, spreadsheets, slides, email, internet browsers, etc. in a professional capacity


Sector Savvy

  • Advocacy - Action for or against a cause or on behalf of others; guidelines for nonprofit advocacy
  • Fundraising - Identification, solicitation, tracking and stewardship of charitable funds that sustain an organization
  • Governance & Board Relations - Role of nonprofit boards and how to effectively work with members
  • Program Management - Planning, implementing, and evaluating programs
  • Volunteer Management - Recruiting, training, overseeing and acknowledging volunteers
  • Working in a Socially Just Way - Building organizational culture that puts values of equity, diversity, and inclusion into practice, and supports the sustainability of a nonprofit career (living wage, work/life balance, etc.)

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