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Revolving door

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Citing a variety of management challenges, three in four nonprofit executive directors say they are likely to leave their jobs within the next five years, a new study says.

“Daring to Lead,” a study conducted by San Francisco-based Compasspoint Nonprofit Services and funded by the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation in Washington, D.C., surveyed almost 2,000 executive directors from community-based groups in eight major cities.

The study surveyed small to medium-sized nonprofits and excluded hospitals, universities and national organizations.

Almost one in 10 executives directors surveyed report that they are currently in the process of leaving, the study says, but most report that they have not discussed a transition plan with their boards.

Many report having a negative perception of their boards and almost three in four say they do not receive adequate fundraising support from board members.

Nonprofit heads also cite grantmaker funding as a challenge, reporting that more general operating support and longer-term funding would relieve sustainability pressures.

Fundraising and financial management are the least favorite job duties among executive directors and the area in which they most need to improve their skills, the report says.

Nine in 10 report they are involved in professional development of some sort, the study says, and one in four have used executive coaches.

Nonprofit heads who report they are very dissatisfied with their compensation are twice as likely to leave their organizations, and most of those surveyed reported making a financial sacrifice to work in the nonprofit sector, but only about one in four had asked for a raise.

Half of the executives surveyed say they are actively developing a future executive director and most say they believe their successors must be paid substantially more, the survey says.

Female executive directors outnumber their male counterparts two to one among the groups surveyed, the study says, but in every category the mean salary reported by women was lower than that reported by men.

Among nonprofits with budgets of $10 million or more, women were less likely to occupy the executive director position, the study says.

Despite an increased focus on diversity, more than eight in 10 top spots are held by white people and new executive directors are just as likely to be white as their more senior counterparts, the survey says, but those under age 40 were slightly less likely to be white.

Cities included in the survey are Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Sacramento, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

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