Author: Willie

The Next Nonprofit CEO: How a founder of a nonprofit foundation has embraced the role of entrepreneur

Jake Wood Was Once a Warrior, Then a Nonprofit Leader. Now He’s an Entrepreneur.

When I asked Wood about his transition from being an entrepreneur to serving as a nonprofit CEO, he pointed to a key part of his foundation’s mission: “Our mission has always been to grow the church and to grow God’s kingdom. If I would have gotten into the church and started a local ministry that I could have directed, there were things I could have done that would not have taken into account my heart for God.”

The question is whether a founder who isn’t necessarily ordained as a priest, but has spent his career serving outside the church through work he loves, is equipped for this new role.

Wood is part of a group of nonprofit executives who will be featured in a new book, “The Next Nonprofit CEO.” The book, out next month, explores the ways in which current nonprofit leaders must address what it means to be able to serve in a new role that requires them to embrace the role of entrepreneur rather than one of traditional church leader.

This isn’t Wood’s first foray into the role. He’s held board seats and served as a national volunteer leader, and he says he’s comfortable now “being a CEO” in a context where he has to think about “the bottom line, and the bottom line is making sure that the mission is accomplished, because if you’re not doing that you’re not doing ministry.”

We talked with Wood about how he came to this crossroads, how his nonprofit experience shaped his focus on what he feels is wrong about current nonprofit leadership, and what’s next for him and his family.

As you’ve served in a variety of roles with the church, how would you describe the role of a CEO?The CEO role for me was the idea that I could be the first person to give vision, but I also had to think about the details of it: the finance, the people, the programs, the people. And the one thing that I kept coming back to was: I love doing the ministry. I loved my church, I loved serving with my church. I could see myself being in that role, and I could see myself still being the person

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