Have you ever wondered what it’s like to lead a non-profit? The Meyer Foundation conducted the largest national survey to date of emerging nonprofit leaders. They asked close to 6,000 people across the country about the disadvantages and benefits of heading a nonprofit organization.
When I read this report, I immediately thought: “Wow, I’m not alone!”
You’ll have an intimate peek of my life and anyone leading a non-profit organization, charity, association or community.
“What we learned was sobering. War for talent or no, those who care about the health of the
charitable sector—those who believe, as we do, that strong nonprofit leaders are the best predictors
of organizational success—can draw both warning and inspiration from the results of this survey.”
* In 2006 the Meyer Foundation, working in partnership with CompassPoint Nonprofit
Services, released a report showing that three out of four executive directors planned to leave
their jobs within the next five years.
* These leaders cited a lack of adequate compensation, burnout, and overwhelming fundraising responsibilities as reasons for their departure. The survey and focus groups for this follow-up study show that emerging leaders are acutely aware of these challenges. They see the executive directors of their own organizations struggle, and often fail, to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Not surprisingly, many next generation leaders wonder how they would fare as heads of their own organizations.
* Money issues loom large for many of these would-be leaders. Close to two-thirds of our survey respondents report having financial qualms about committing to nonprofit careers.
* Over two-thirds (69 percent) feel they are underpaid for the work they currently do. Focus group participants discussed having to forego luxuries their friends could easily afford. Some described how they had to take on second jobs to supplement their nonprofit salaries.
* A report by The Bridespan Group, for example, indicates that by 2016 the nonprofit sector will need 80,000 new senior managers each year, 40 percent more each year than is currently required. Demand pressures and a constrained supply will challenge nonprofit boards of directors and recruiters who must compete against
government and business for talented leaders.
The survey results described in this report tell us a lot about ourselves, and not all of it is flattering. The wisdom on the streets—confirmed to some degree by this study—is that we tend to undervalue nonprofit work and the people who do it. Even those of us who should know better sometimes fall prey to the notion that important charitable work can and should happen at a discount. This same idea animates the view that professionals who toil at nonprofits ought to work longer hours and for less pay than their for-profit counterparts. Where does this idea come from? Perhaps we’ve all heard too many charitable organizations promise that 100 percent of our donated dollars will support those who are most in need. Our desire to cut out the middle men—those who actually feed the hungry, house the homeless, and heal the sick— might also be rooted in the notion that acts of giving ought to be kept “pure.” The archetype of the charitable act includes a generous donor and a grateful supplicant. It leaves little room for the people who do the very hard work of delivering nonprofit services.
We undervalue these people at our peril. Nonprofit executive directors are burning out and leaving the sector in alarming numbers. Meanwhile, emerging leaders are thinking twice about stepping into the breach. This is a great shame when we consider the extraordinary vision and values that drew these talented people into our sector in the first place.
So what are some solutions?
According to Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace prize winner, the solution is a social business that can create a world without poverty. You can read more below:
What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment below