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Leadership crisis looming

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By Todd Cohen

Charity’s clock is ticking.

Charity boards and foundations must invest quickly in finding, developing and keeping strong leaders.

Without that investment, charity will be in big trouble.

That is the chilling message of two new studies.

Daring to Lead,” by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, says three of four nonprofit executive directors are likely to leave their jobs in the next five years.

Fueling that expected turnover, the study says, are fundraising stress, weak boards, low pay and lack of management support.

And “The Nonprofit Sector’s Leadership Deficit,” by The Bridgespan Group, says charities will need to attract 640,000 new leaders over the next 10 years.

To handle that demand, it says, foundations must invest in building skilled management teams, even if it means spending more on operating support, and charities must boost management rewards and expand their recruiting pool to tap retiring Baby Boomers, people making mid-life career changes, and younger people.

Charity for too long has counted on the dedication of leaders willing to put up with low pay, hard and stressful work, and boards that are meddling and clueless.

Fixing social problems requires addressing charity’s leadership crisis.


Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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