Serving as the program director for a human services organization requires managerial skills, attention to detail and organizational prowess. But there’s more to successfully managing an organization than administrative duties. Read on, and we’ll detail daily program director responsibilities, as well as some duties you might not expect.
A program director isn’t afraid to speak up since they represent their community and take a leadership role
What does a program director do?
Most people would correctly assume that a program director designs and oversees programs to meet needs in the community, supervises staff and analyzes data to ascertain the effectiveness of programs. Their supervisory role extends to recruiting, hiring and training new staff. Program directors also set and monitor the budget for their organization.
At large agencies or organizations, the role of a program director can be specialized. In smaller and non-profit organizations, program managers often assume many roles. That’s where responsibilities you wouldn’t expect come in to play. Program directors who hope to get involved with smaller and grass roots organizations should hone skills that will help them perform the following unexpected tasks.
#1 – Hold Community Forums
In many instances, program directors are the face of the organization. That means they are responsible for leading public forums and community meetings. These events are typically open to the public and serve as a venue for discussing community concerns and issues. During forums, residents may draw attention to services that are needed or suggest ways to improve services that are currently offered. Forums are also an opportunity for organizations to explain new and existing services to members of the community. Educational outreach is an important function of community meetings. Programs and services will not be effective if residents don’t know about them or how to use them.
#2 – Campaign for Fundraising
Controlling the budget for human services programs often entails more than just monitoring funds in vs. monies out. Program directors not only set and manage the budget, but they play a large part in obtaining funding. This may mean planning and supervising fundraiser events, such as:
- Silent auctions
- Donation drives, and
- Meeting with individual or corporate donors
Fundraising requires program directors to wear many hats and communicate effectively with persons of diverse and varied status and backgrounds.
#3 – Public Speaking
Program directors encounter many situations where it is beneficial to have strong public speaking skills. They may be required to address the board at quarterly or yearly meetings and give presentations summarizing the activities and success rates of the programs they head. Program directors often speak at rallies and keynote events or give presentations at local schools and other community institutions. They may even present in front of council persons or representatives to obtain local and state government funding. Program directors also conduct interviews with community members and residents who use the services their programs provide and report this information to administrators and funders.
#4 – Head Committees
Program directors get down in the trenches, too. They serve as the head of many operational committees for the organizations and programs they run. From budgetary hearings to membership drive committees to think tank operations, program directors need to have eyes and ears on all the goings on and provide the final word and approval for action taken by employees and members.
#5 – Grab bag!
Program directors are the first and last line of defense for their organizations. If a program or service fails, it is on their head. Because they have the most at stake, they often work the hardest to make sure the needs of the organization are met. That means they pick up slack wherever it occurs. Program directors may:
- Fill in manning the tables at awareness events
- Sign up new volunteers and recruits at rallies
- Manage the organization’s social media and communications networks
- Write and distributing press releases and
- Serve as volunteer workers at events and service locations
The duties and responsibilities of a program director don’t often stay at the office. Working in human services is a life choice, not just a job. It’s hard to predict when a need or emergency may arise and call for a program director to step up to the plate and settle the issue. Most program directors are involved with an organization that mirrors their passions. For that reason, these ambitious and energized workers are always on, working from home and the road, in constant communication with the organization through email, text and phone. This important work is shouldered by motivated individuals who not only want to see change in their communities, but are willing to do the hard work required to effect that change.