Program Officer Competency Model©

Chart a path toward transformative grantmaking and trust-based relationships.

Foundation program officers play a critical, nuanced role at the intersection of resources, strategies, and stakeholders. The Program Officer Competency Model captures this complexity. Development of the model included an analysis of more than 100 job descriptions, a review by competency model experts, and the input of nine focus groups with grantmakers and nonprofit leaders to determine and define the essential competencies of the program officer role.

This model elevates the importance of demonstrating core KSAOs over the holding of traditional credentials and formal networks — all in the service of supporting professional and personal fulfillment.

  • Current and prospective program officers: Use the model to check in on and advance your own learning and proficiency.
  • Hiring managers: Adopt competency-based hiring practices by utilizing the model in position descriptions, interviews, and hiring.
  • Leadership: Amp up your grantmaking strategies by ensuring your team has the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.

Explore the interactive model below. We encourage you to use, adapt, and share this model to map your professional journey, to structure position descriptions, design training programs, and so much more.

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Johnson Center for Philanthropy

Publication/Event Date:

March 17, 2021



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Human Resources Management