Many nonprofits start with a dream to make a difference. In this article, we will share with you the different types of organizational charts, how to create one, and the best nonprofit organizational chart templates available to help you get started.
Who is this template for?
This template is for all nonprofit organizations.
What are the main sections covered in this template?
Editable organizational chart for a single nonprofit team and multiple teams within an organization.
Many nonprofits start with a dream to make a difference. With perseverance, funding, and a little bit of luck, they can evolve into large and successful organizations.
However, with that evolution comes organizational complexity—which is why creating an organizational chart is so important.
In this article, we will share with you the different types of organizational charts, how to create one, and the best nonprofit organizational chart templates available to help you get started.
What Is an Organizational Chart?
An organizational chart is just that—a chart that depicts how your nonprofit is organized.
Most commonly, an organizational chart illustrates the hierarchy or chain of command in your nonprofit. However, anything you want to visualize with a clear structure can be put into an organizational chart, such as how different departments within your nonprofit are structured.
There are typically three types of organizational charts: hierarchical, matrix, and flat.
The hierarchical organizational chart illustrates the top-down structure of your organization. It’s often depicted as a triangle with your Executive Director at the top. You can include your board of directors if you would like, however, most charts start with their directors and work down from there.
The matrix organizational chart highlights cross-functional collaboration, especially within a specific project. For example, if you’re in human resources and you’re working on a project with different partners across the nonprofit, you can keep the division of responsibilities clear with a matrix organizational chart. You can also see who reports to who based on the project, which is especially helpful if it differs from their typical core job responsibilities.
The flat organizational chart is best for organizations that have fewer levels of supervision between employees and upper management. Unlike a hierarchical chart, a flat organizational chart has a much more streamlined and simple structure.
Whichever organizational chart you choose, it should ultimately help your employees understand their roles better and what sort of governance and oversight exist within day-to-day operations.
Why Does a Nonprofit Need an Organizational Chart?
Nonprofit organizational charts are an invaluable resource for both employees as well as donors. Anything you can do to bring transparency to your nonprofit will help establish trust and clarity with your organization’s various stakeholders.
Importance of Organizational Charts for Employees
Organizational charts are a great way to help employees understand the structure of the nonprofit and how it operates. An organizational chart is especially beneficial for new hires who are unfamiliar with how the nonprofit or different departments are organized.
Organizational charts can also help employees know who to go to when they have questions or concerns. These charts make it clear that everyone is reporting to someone and there are checks and balances in place. They can also help identify any gaps in your organization and can be used to make the case for additional hires.
Another reason why creating an organizational chart is so important is because many grant proposals require you to show proof of or describe your governance model.
At the end of the day, your organizational chart helps you depict your operations in a way that is clear, easy to understand, and transparent.
Importance of Organizational Charts for Donors
Donors also look to a nonprofit’s organizational chart for several different reasons, and believe it or not, having one in place could make or break whether they contribute.
Organizational charts drive transparency. Having a clear organizational chart shows donors a lot about how you operate, including where their funds may be going. If there are a lot of unnecessary layers in your business, it could be a potential red flag to donors.
Much like employees, organizational charts can also help donors and other stakeholders know where to go when they need to address issues or ask questions. Depending on how large your nonprofit is, this can be a huge time-saver.
Additionally, high-level donors are often more judicious about how they invest their money, so a clear organization chart may factor into their charitable giving goals for the year. It helps them assess your client readiness, so don’t skimp on the planning. It’s a worthwhile document.
How to Make a Nonprofit Organizational Chart?
Making a nonprofit organizational chart shouldn’t be intimidating. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:
Gather your information. Make a list of everyone you’d like included in your chart, including names and titles. In some cases, you may also include pictures.
Pick a style. If you have a lot of people to include, you may want to use a collapsible, horizontal chart. Smaller organizations can use the triangle or spoke and wheel model. You can use a nonprofit organizational chart template (which we will share below!) or create one yourself.
Enter your data. Once you have all the information gathered and have chosen your organizational chart template, simply enter in the information in the different blocks.
Update the formatting. Once you’ve got the barebones, you can work on bringing your chart to brand standards. Use your organization’s colors and fonts. Add branding elements where applicable. You don’t want to bog it down, but you want it to feel like your nonprofit.
Add additional information where necessary. Some organizational charts will color code to represent reporting structures or functions, while others keep it uniform. If you have any specific information you’d like to add to your chart, you can always insert a key to help others decode the information at hand.
Creating an organizational chart doesn’t have to be time-consuming and intimidating. We’ve pulled 10 of the best nonprofit organizational chart templates to help you get started and complete your chart in no time.
Free Nonprofit Organizational Chart Templates
You don’t have to create your own organizational chart from scratch unless you want to. There are plenty of free nonprofit organizational chart templates that you can choose from.
The example here shows one of the most common organizational chart structures you’ll see at any company. It simply includes boxes with names and titles flowing up through the top. You have a little bit of horizontal spread when you start to build out the teams, but ultimately, it’s a hierarchical chart to show you the top-down leadership.
2. Functional Organizational Chart
Rather than focusing on the people, a functional organizational chart shows you the different functions under a particular leader.
For example, the chief marketing officer is responsible for much more than just marketing. They also oversee several other teams that you may not know, so it helps bring visibility. You can also find this nonprofit functional organizational chart template on Canva.
3. Visual Organizational Chart
A nonprofit organizational chart template can include pictures to help you put a face to the name, though keep in mind that if you have large teams or high turnover, these charts may quickly become too unruly to manage.
Still, when used properly, visual organizational charts are highly effective in bringing a people-first mentality rather than just a name on paper.
4. Spoke and Wheel Model
If you want to do a deep dive into one area, you can have the leader at the center and show all the people and responsibilities that come from them with the spoke and wheel model.
Rather than a top-down model, it instead focuses on the interconnectivity of a team. If one is missing, it can completely throw off the balance of the team and organization.
5. Flat Organizational Chart
A flat organizational chart helps you build horizontally on the page, which is great for teams with larger responsibilities. The main leader is at the center, much like the spoke and wheel model, but instead of surrounding that person, the functions spread out. It gives you more room on a page to represent the depth of your organization.
6. Matrix Organizational Chart
The matrix organization chart not only represents a reporting structure, but it also shows who is working on what projects. This could be critical to help you assess your capacity or identify who is working on what projects and what areas you may need more expertise in.
7. Title Organizational Chart
Perhaps you’re just building an aspirational organizational chart. It’s not reflective of your business today, but it is where you hope to be with proper support and funding.
This is where a title-based organizational chart could help. You’re putting the structure in place that you hope to see, and it can help you identify potential gaps in your nonprofit’s operating structure.
8. Management Organizational Chart
Maybe you only want to show your leadership in your organizational chart. It could be your Board of Directors or your executive team. Whatever level you want to highlight, you can do so in a management organization chart. The one below includes contact information, which is different from any other nonprofit organizational chart template on this list.
9. Microsoft Office SmartArt
Microsoft PowerPoint allows you to create flow charts directly in a slide when you use their SmartArt feature. Select hierarchy to see the different models that are available to you. They are basic but convenient to use, especially if you’re in a hurry. It’s a great nonprofit organizational chart template to use for presentations.
10. Custom Organizational Chart
There may be any number of reasons why you need to make your own organizational chart, but if you’re not tech savvy, consider using Diagrams.net, which is an open-source platform that lets you create flow charts and diagrams. You can even collaborate with shared sheets in real-time, which is nice if you have multiple people working on the same sheet.
The best nonprofit organizational chart will vary from organization to organization, but there are great free templates available to help you create one that makes sense for your organization.
Your needs may change year over year, so your organizational chart can evolve with you. Don’t be afraid to download your favorite templates and save them for future reference—you may not need them now, but you might eventually!
With the right tools, nonprofits can quickly scale fundraising and programming and take back their time. But, what makes something the “best” tool? And how do you justify an additional expense in a resource-constrained organization? Download this guide to learn more.