Nonprofit Controller Profile: Job Description and Salary

Professional Profile: Nonprofit Controller Job Description and Salary

Nonprofits operate for the purpose of serving. Since all revenues collected are put back into the organization to fund the mission, sometimes it is difficult to allocate funds for a payroll budget. Many nonprofit organizations begin as a one- or two-person operation and additional staff is hired only when needed. That method works, but it is important to understand which organizational roles are needed to maximize efficiency. 

In this article, we talk about nonprofit organizations’ controller position and provide guidance on filling the role. 

Nonprofit Controller Salaries

The salary range for nonprofit controllers is very broad. According to Zip Recruiter, the national average nonprofit controller salary is $90,461. Typically, salaries in the nonprofit sector are lower than for-profit job descriptions. Finding the right range for your organization depends on several factors including:

  • Organization size
  • Organization budget
  • Candidate experience
  • Candidate education and certifications
  • Controller responsibilities
  • Accounting support staff
  • Organizational growth strategies
  • Region
  • Number of locations

If it is the first time an organization is filling the position, it may make sense to leave the range open. Ask candidates to provide a preferred salary range when submitting their resumes. The input from qualified candidates will help the CEO, HR manager, or another person in charge of hiring determine a fair range going forward.

Nonprofit Controller Job Description

The occupation of the controller looks different in most organizations, whether they are for-profit or not-for-profit. By definition, the controller is similar to an accounting manager. They perform or oversee accounting and finance functions including high-level accounting and financial analysis within a business.

A controller may be the accounting and finance position with the most authority or they may report to the chief financial officer (CFO). It is common in small businesses and nonprofit organizations for the controller and CFO roles to be combined. 

To find the right candidate for the nonprofit controller position, most organizations start with a job description. The purpose of the job description is two-fold. First, the job description acts as a filter for potential candidates, allowing them to learn more about the position before deciding to apply. Second, the job description acts as a guide for the organization. When a job posting is placed, organizations will receive many applicants. Unfortunately, only some of them will be qualified.

Those qualified individuals become interview candidates. The hiring manager can refer to the job description during the candidate search and the organization can continue to use and update the job description as a guideline for organizational structure. Ideally, there will be a written job description for every paid position in the organization. 

How To Write A Nonprofit Controller Job Description

Since the job description will be made available to potential job candidates, it’s important to have a nonprofit controller job description that reflects the organization in a positive light. After all, half of finding the right person for the job is finding someone that wants to be there.

Unique to nonprofit organizations, a good company controller will not only be qualified in terms of experience and credentials, but they will be interested in and inspired by the nonprofit’s mission. When publicly posting a job description, it is a great idea to start with company details like in the sample below.

Nonprofit Controller Job Description Example

About us

In this section, share some information about your organization. This part of the job description should include details about how long the organization has been operating as well as some information about the mission. 


In this part of the job description, explain to the candidate what the job is. Some great things to include about the controller position are:

  • Who does the nonprofit controller report to?
  • Which departments or team members does the controller interact the most with?
  • Does the position supervise other employees?

Next, the job description should give an accurate and thorough account of the duties and expectations of the nonprofit controller. Some examples of duties commonly performed by the controller include, but are not limited to:

  • Staff training and development
  • Oversight of budgeting and forecasting implementation
  • Manage general ledger, cash flow, and bank reconciliation processes
  • Generate financial reports, in compliance with GAAP or other standards
  • Oversight of accounts payable and accounts receivable
  • Coordinate audit activities

Job Requirements

The job requirement, or qualification, the section of the job description is very important because it sets the standard for the preferred levels of experience and education necessary to oversee accounting and finance functions. This part of a job posting will list necessary qualifications like prior nonprofit experience, CPA designation, software knowledge, and supervisory experience. 

Final Thoughts

If your nonprofit organization has grown enough to expand your team, congratulations. Hiring an experienced or motivated nonprofit controller is a great way to make sure accounting and finance processes get on track and continue moving in the right direction.

Preparing the job description will benefit the organization through various growth stages, so get started today. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your nonprofit accounting experts at JFW Accounting Services for help.


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