Wednesday, June 29, 2011

All About Executive Directors - Results of a New Daring to Lead Study on Nonprofit Leadership

A new national study of nonprofit executive leadership provides a keen insight into and useful benchmarking statistics on the state of nonprofit leadership. Daring to Lead 2011 is a joint project of CompassPoint and the Meyer Foundation. The report is based on responses from over 3000 executive directors and follows similar studies in 2001 and 2006.

I am again writing companion pieces here and at the Nonprofit Capacity Blog at about the study. This piece discusses the results from the perspective of the executive director and the other one the perspective of the Board.  As always, I add my two cents along the way.

Here are the key findings:

Though slowed by the recession, projected rates of executive turnover remain high and many boards of directors are under-prepared to select and support new leaders.

The recession has amplified the chronic financial instability of many organizations, causing heightened anxiety and increased frustration with unsustainable financial models.

Despite the profound challenges of the role, nonprofit executives remain energized and resolved.

The last few years have been challenging for nonprofit executive directors by any measure. Although a grand exodus was expected, more EDs than expected hung in there but not without its toll. Sixty-five percent (65%) of executives reported significant levels of recession-related anxiety. Even with this to deal with, 45% reported being very happy in their jobs, and another 46% reported that they have more good days than bad in the role. The exodus of EDs is sure to pick up pace as 20% of the respondents were over 60. In this study 67% said they expect to leave their present position within five years. Retirement isn’t the only reason.

Here is something for EDs to know when they are new in the job.  By and large the first year is a honeymoon period and EDs' happiness in a job takes a dive in year 2 slowly building - taking over 10 years to pass a 50% rate of happiness with the job.  My advice to new EDs is to take a page from experienced EDs and conjure up all the resilience they can.

EDs do take the time to invest in their own development as leaders. This chart shows the breadth and effectiveness of various strategies employed by EDs for their own development.

They consider executive coaching, peer networks, and leadership programs as most effective and reported that peer networks were especially effective for decreasing feelings of isolation and norming the trials and tribulations of their jobs.

In my year end blog post in 2009 I said that I wished my readers resilience for 2010 as that is what they would need most. It is interesting to me that was a key finding in this report. EDs have remained resilient through the recession and with as much passion and commitment to their causes as ever.

One area of concern that I see frequently in nonprofit leaders they see in themselves: financial management skills.  A significant number of EDs say that they don’t thoroughly understand the financial underpinnings of their organizations. At the same time boards of directors are evermore focused on financial oversight. In my experience financial management issues can be a key point of tension between a board and an ED. In addition to being a primary contributor to executive director burnout, financial instability can threaten an organization’s ability to carry out its mission and its very existence. This report most definitely sends a strong call for more training and development in this area for EDs.

This chart highlights the concern on the EDs part of their own ability in this crucial factor of nonprofit leadership.

40% consider financial management as a “depleting” part of their job.

Although ED’s recognize this as a very important part of their job 36% say they don’t spend enough time on it.

73% say there is significant board financial oversight while only 47% say boards provide significantly to fund development.

So what are the energizing part of an ED’s job? This next chart is fascinating but not surprising. The most energizing aspects of a ED’s job are working with partners, program management and working with individual donors.

What was the career path of the 3000 ED’s that responded to this study? This is another fascinating result. Only 32% were hired from outside the organization and 68% were an employee on staff, a board member or the founder.  A closer look at the data suggest there is almost an equal chance as becoming an ED with a promotion from within as there is as an outside hire. 

A big thank you to CompassPoint and the Meyer Foundation for this insightful report on what makes Executive Directors tick. We have so much to be grateful for – the cadre of nonprofit leaders who have weathered the storm of the recession and kept the ships afloat and righted. Gracias! And some good advice for newer EDs.

See the whole report here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

You and Your Nonprofit – Just Published!

Thursday’s mail brought my copy of the newly published You and Your Nonprofit. I have been waiting for my copy anxiously as I am a proud contributor and it did not disappoint.

You and Your Nonprofit is published as part of Charity Channel's In the Trenches series and features practical advice and tips from the Charity Channel Nonprofit Professional Community. The almost 70 articles cover nonprofit leadership, management and fundraising topics. I have already read many of the articles and I am amazed at how succinct and yet thorough each one is. The editors did an excellent job with article selection, presentation format, and organization. I will be referencing my copy frequently. I particularly like the easy-to-reference format with sidebar practical tips and bulleted lists. You and Your Nonprofit is a must have for your go to reference shelf.

My featured articles are:

Planning a Board Retreat

Getting Your Strategic Plan Working Together and Then Taking It Up a Notch!

Both of these articles were adapted from articles that originally appeared in Charity Channel’s Nonprofits Boards and Governance Review and later on my blog. They also are among my articles that have been chosen to appear in major online databases and receive frequent hits here on this blog.

This is the first time I am published in a book and it is exciting. I’m thinking about how to celebrate locally. Any ideas – please leave comments and share your ideas.

A 25% discount is available through 7/31/11.

Here is the coupon code for the 25% discount: CCPRESS423

Order Now!

Find Out More About the Book

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Making Facebook Work for a Nonprofit - But Which Tool in the Toolbox Is It?

Today I saw the most amazing statistics about Facebook and Idealware just published a great report with lots of hard data about facebook and nonprofits so I said to myself: “It’s Kismet – Write about Facebook!” reported on the results of a study which finds that 56% of content shared online happens via facebook. Wow! Now that’s a big number!  Facebook accounts for 38% of all sharing referral traffic (That’s fancy for a shared link that was actually clicked on) - more than email and twitter combined. The study looked at the sharing and clicking habits of the more than 300 million people a month who pass links with a ShareThis button on over a million websites, producing 7 billion pageviews a month. This data certainly confirms that facebook cannot be discounted - it should be in your toolbox.  But what kind of a tool is it?
Idealware has just published Using Facebook to Meet Your Mission: Results of a Survey. Idealware surveyed 505 nonprofits and interviewed 8 people who said they were having some success with facebook.  Thanks idealware for this thorough and insightful report that all nonprofits can use on their journey with facebook.
You can download the whole report here  and there even is a free online seminar on June 16th to discuss the results.

Facebook is more likely to succeed in attracting constituents that require a lower level of commitment was the overriding finding. Some specific results with nonprofit facebook pages are:

• More than 70% attracted new attendees to events and generated increased traffic to their website.

• 40% had success converting some fans into donors or volunteers

• 66% of respondents from advocacy organizations saw an increase in people taking action like signing a petition.

• 29% saw an increase in donations

• Over 80% said facebook increased awareness and relationships with constituents

Making Facebook Work for a Nonprofit
The study clearly found that putting in a reasonable amount of time and setting goals contributed to having success with facebook:
The average time spent per week reported by organizations who saw
positive impact from facebook was 2.6 hours.

Only 36 percent of respondents reported having defined goals. Almost 40 percent of those reported a generally positive impact from the site, compared to less than 25 percent of those that did not set goals.

So are you ready to get serious about facebook? Organizations who reported success with donors say that it takes a long time to develop donors. Do not get discouraged easily, grow and learn, intereact and follow other nonprofits. It takes some commitment to be successful with facebook so be prepared to make a reasonable commitment.
There are many resources specifically for nonprofits online to help and here are a couple of good basic ones.
John Haydon at  John does these great simple walk you through videos that I can even follow.  I have figured out more than one facebook mystery from John Haydon.
Facebook’s Nonprofit guide  Facebook has a nonprofit guide and a fan page that can help you get off to a good start.  Check them out.
I'd love to hear your experience and questions about nonprofits and facebook.  Please leave your comments here.  And my facebook page to see my blog posts in your news feed: