Averting the coming nonprofit leadership crisis - a study

We've been inspired to launch a nonprofit leadership survey. Last month's post on fundraising problems being leadership problems really hit a nerve.

And it's no wonder.

Charities are getting hit hard from outside pressures but based on my experience with the coaching and training I'm doing, I think what we're experiencing now is just the prelude to the leadership issues we'll start seeing coming from within organizations.

  • There is an alarming increase in the number of executive directors bullied by their own board of directors.
  • CEOs are faced with so many distractions they often focus on the wrong issues at the expense of the right ones - like looking for a magic crowdfunding strategy when they should be retaining donors.
  • And in the absence of a unifying mission, many staff members are creating fiefdoms and silos convincing themselves this will somehow benefit the whole nonprofit.

Add to this the 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching retirement age every day, and we're in for quite a ride. Some might even call it a "perfect storm."

Unfortunately, leaders are still largely left with either 1950's style, one-size-fits-all leadership advice or anecdotal stories of what has worked for specific leaders. Very few research-based resources exist to help leaders. So it's probably not surprising that leadership development within our nonprofits is so inadequate that around half of nonprofit boards looking to hire have had to go outside of the organization to bring in a leader. While fresh ideas can be good, we all know what time and effort can be saved by promoting leaders from within.

Building on the research

Boards and executive directors don't have time to figure out what works through trial and error. So my company, the Concord Leadership Group, is partnering with some organizations like the Utah Nonprofit Association, NonprofitHUB, Bloomerang, Blackbaud, StratusLIVE, and DonorSearch to help fix that. Today, we're launching a survey to help take a snapshot of where nonprofits are and uncover best practices that are easy to implement.

We're building on the great work of organizations like CompassPoint and Bridgespan. And adding to it. Unlike many studies, this study isn't limited to the board room or the C-suite. We believe leadership can be exercised at all levels. So we're opening the survey up to all nonprofit roles - board, executive directors, senior leaders, middle managers, frontline staff, and volunteers. We're interested in seeing how the different groups perceive leadership in their nonprofits.

We're also using classifications used in GivingUSA to help identify possible trends across subsectors like health or human services.

Will you help spread the word?

Our nonprofits are vital to our communities. But we don't have the klout to lobby for "bailouts" like the financial industry did. Nor do we want to. We're smart enough to figure this crisis out for ourselves.

Would you take the survey? The survey is only about 10 minutes. You can find it at The State of Nonprofit Leadership.

And would you share it with others? The link on the Concord Leadership Group page is:
http://concordleadershipgroup.com/approach/research/

About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the CEO of The Concord Leadership Group, the author of Ask Without Fear! and director of The Nonprofit Academy. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.
To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to https://fundraisingcoach.com/21-ways/

What would you add?