This study examines whether and how a CEO’s personal traits (gender, altruism, age, and founder) influence organizational performance. Building upon upper echelons theory, this study develops a conceptual framework that gives explicit recognition to how the institutional environment surrounding the CEOs shapes their characteristics, which, in turn, are reflected in the different organizational strategies and performance. This study moves beyond the existing focus on for-profit corporations and conducts the empirical analysis on a novel, hand-collected, longitudinal dataset of 1342 firm-year observations of 128 faith-based charity organizations operating in a major developing, Muslim-majority country in the period 1996–2019. This study reveals that those faith-based charity organizations led by CEOs with specific personal traits (woman, altruistic, young, and founder) exhibit better organizational performance. Importantly, CEOs’ personal traits, however, do not have a uniform, systematic effect; their effect is generally strengthened when the CEO is also the founder of the faith-based charity organization, given the greater latitude of managerial discretion that a CEO has in managing the organization. Our findings have important implications for individual charity organizations; their board of directors; and their stakeholders, in particular the communities they serve, as well as the whole society where they operate.