Successful Nonprofits: Individual Coaching

Coaching for nonprofit executives

Individual Coaching

Coaching for nonprofit executives

Individual Coaching

by GoldenburgGroup

Individual Coaching Tailored to Meet Your Needs

Your nonprofit leadership is unique and deeply personal. You face countless challenges, make tough decisions, and navigate complex situations every day. That’s where coaching comes in. As your executive coach, I am here to help you achieve your goals, overcome obstacles, and seize opportunities that can take your leadership to the next level.

When asked to describe my coaching style, I’ll typically respond “You remember Yoda from Star Wars?” Just as Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker are the heroes of Star Wars, you are the hero of this coaching story. And like Yoda, I’m here to help guide your journey with great questions, candid feedback, challenging skill drills, and deep expertise and experience in nonprofit leadership.

Toward that end, I will co-design a customized curriculum with you to address your specific leadership goals. This curriculum will provide you with practical tools and strategies that you can implement right away. And, because your time is valuable, I will ask you to do 25 to 35 minutes of homework between sessions — so you can continue to reinforce your progress outside of our coaching sessions.

Let’s work together to help you and your nonprofit thrive!

Praise from a Coaching Partner

Dolph was my coach for my first year in a new role as Executive Director of an existing organization. Dolph is a wonderful listener and excellent coach. He provided insight and wisdom, drawing on his many years of working with similar organizations, and his words were always practical, realistic, and motivated me to move forward. Having someone to listen and provide perspective who was not part of the organization was tremendously helpful.

– David Mariner, Executive Director
Sussex Pride

Our Process

Meet Bi-Weekly

You and your coach will meet every other week by Zoom. Following each session, your coach will provide a list of follow-up activities and a recording of the session so you can refer to it at any point.

Identify Goals

As part of your coaching plan, your coach will help you identify three goals for the year and work with you toward achieving them. These goals will be high-level, such as build a strong relationship with the Board, meet the first-year strategic plan objectives, or fully resolve a financial crisis.

Measure Achievement

Your coach will help you measure achievement toward your goals on a regular basis, using tools agreed to by both you and your coach.


Both you and your coach will have homework between each meeting. Examples of your homework may include drafting a document to be shared with the Board chair, reading a chapter of a pertinent book, or having a conversation with a specific person. Examples of your coach’s homework may include providing a template for a document, reviewing a document you have written, connecting you with other resources or people, or drafting a series of options to be considered in our next coaching session.

Year-Long Commitment

An up-front, 12-month commitment ensures that you and your organization remain committed to coaching –  despite the unexpected fires we all experience at work and at home. For this reason, all coaching requires a year commitment.

Who can benefit from coaching?

First-time executive directors who want to be successful. Every first-time executive director experiences an 18-month transition period that ultimately determines their success in their new position. In addition to building an effective relationship with the Board, the first-time executive director must also develop an elementary understanding of all functional areas within the organization.

Executives who are responsible for implementing a strategic or fundraising plan. Once the Board approves a strategic plan or fundraising plan, the real work begins. Since you as the organization’s executive are now responsible for implementing the plan, your coach is invaluable in helping you remain focused on implementation.

Executives who are experiencing significant conflict with the Board. Being an executive director is especially lonely when there is tension with the Board. You can’t share this information with other staff in your organization, nor can you seek support from other executive directors without potentially harming your organization’s reputation. Your coach can help you understand the sources of conflict with your Board and navigate them.

Executives who are leading organizations that are facing a crisis. All organizations face crises at various points in their life cycle — perhaps it’s the sudden loss of a leader, a dramatic reduction in funding, a faltering fundraising campaign, or instability among key organizational partners. No one should face a crisis without support, and your coach can offer an independent perspective to help you resolve the crisis.

Executives who are experiencing professional stagnation. Sometimes you just feel stuck. Maybe you lost passion for your work, been repeatedly passed over for internal promotions, or unsuccessfully applied for a new position. In these situations, your coach helps you identify the reasons you are not making progress and works with you to create a plan for moving forward.

What is the role of a coach?

To describe the broader context of your situation. While every situation is unique, it is helpful to understand whether your experience is commonly shared among nonprofit professionals and to learn how they successfully navigated similar issues.

To help you learn the skills necessary for success. We are often selected for a new role based on success in a prior position. Consequently, you may start an executive-level position with many – but not all – of the necessary skills.

To share possible opportunities or dangers you might not see. Every one of us can get so wrapped up in the minutia of managing a department or agency that we miss possible opportunities or dangers. Your coach will highlight potential opportunities and risks and help you assess them.

To guide you through a process or specific period in your career. Sometimes you need some help and guidance implementing a plan, completing a new process, or navigating a difficult situation. Much like an expedition guide, your coach can help prepare you for the path forward.

To serve as an accountability partner. Your coach will ensure you have a plan for achieving your goals and will be there to support you as you implement it.

To help you identify strategies for overcoming the obstacles in your way. Everyone experiences obstacles in their job, and your coach will help you consider strategies to reduce or eliminate obstacles so you can achieve your goals.

What are the limitations of coaching?

Coaching is not a replacement for legal, accounting, or mental health services. Your coach is not an attorney, accountant, or mental health professional. Your coach will not provide services in these areas (though we can certainly recommend some great professionals).

Coaching is a team effort. Every coach agrees “you get out of coaching what you put into it.” Your coach holds your coaching schedule sacred and asks that you do the same. Though both you and the coach will work around planned vacations, your big events, and unplanned family emergencies, we also ask that you schedule time to prepare for each session.

A note on confidentiality. Since we coach you as a person and not an organization, we hold the information discussed confidential to the greatest extent possible. For this reason, we will not respond to requests for information from your supervisor, a Board member, or others in your organization. We will, however, disclose the information you share if we believe there is illegal activity or if required by a subpoena.


Why use Dolph as your coach?

You want a coach who has been where you want to go and has taken others there as well. Dolph has . . . .

  • Significant executive director experience (in permanent and interim executive director roles)
  • A keen understanding of the relationship between the Board and executive director
  • Assumed leadership of multiple nonprofits during a time of crisis
  • Significant fundraising experience (in the areas of individual giving, major donors, special events, and grant writing)
  • Coached nonprofit executives in the areas of plan implementation, Board relations, fundraising, and crisis management.


The cost is $9,600 for a full year’s commitment. This includes up to 22 bi-weekly sessions and significant support between sessions (typically about one hour between each session). The coaching fee is payable quarterly.


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