The nonprofit sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the US. According to the 2012 Nonprofit Almanac, there are more than 2.3 million nonprofits in the United States, with more than 1.6 million of them registered with the IRS. Since 2008, the number of employees in most major industries has declined; however, the number of people employed by nonprofits has continued to grow. And, during that same period, salaries in nonprofits have grown faster than salaries and benefits in business and government. Unfortunately, one area where nonprofits are not growing is in the development of leaders.
Without strong and effective leaders, nonprofits will not continue to grow and prosper. Funders, both grant funders and individual donors, expect that organizations will be run by strong leadership. Nonprofit leaders need leadership skills to effectively manage the myriad of issues, personalities and challenges they will encounter in their daily jobs. One of the biggest gaps in leadership development amongst nonprofit professionals is how to lead ethically.
The second leadership challenge facing nonprofits is that most of the leadership development programs we encourage our leaders to participate in are not actually developing leaders. Instead, they are developing managers. A manage is someone who implements systems, processes and coordinates them while a leader is someone who inspires and motivates those around him/her. A good leader is someone that others want to follow, someone who guides others and is influential. An important note, then, if it is our goal to develop leaders, we need to make sure that we are developing ethical leaders to protect the entire nonprofit sector.
The third leadership challenge facing today’s nonprofits is a lack of succession planning. Many of today’s leaders are in their 50’s and 60’s and will soon be wanting to retire. Unfortunately, the sector has not done a good job of developing future leaders who can step into these positions. Nonprofit leaders and their boards need to spend some time developing a succession plan that will take the organization into the future.
Do you or your organization face these leadership challenges? We can help with Leadership Mastermind Groups, Succession Planning and Board Development. Contact us for more information.