Nonprofits Seek to Fill 24,000 Leadership Roles in Downturn
The study also shows that bridging the leadership gap will call for recruiting beyond the sector. Seventy-three percent of the survey’s 433 respondents affirmed they value private sector skills. Yet, despite a tide of corporate layoffs in the managerial ranks 60% also believe they will face a paucity of qualified candidates.
”It’s a wake-up call that even as the rolls of unemployed executives swell, nonprofits are struggling to fill key positions,” said David Simms, a Bridgespan partner and director of the study. “There is an overwhelming perception that these roles will be difficult to fill due to the need for specialized skills, compensation and funding challenges, competition for the best candidates, and lack of career development opportunities.”
Respondents rated functional skills as their top criteria for qualifying job candidates, signaling opportunity for “bridgers” from corporate roles. Bridgespan Partner Wayne Luke, who directs the firm’s executive search service, points to a dramatic rise in CFO searches in past months.
At the same time, respondents put nearly as high a premium on cultural fit, a good opportunity for those in the nonprofit sector but not always a given for corporate transplants. “Functional skills will get you on the short list,” said Luke, “But only cultural fit can seal the deal.”
Among the key findings of the survey:
* As of January, 28% of nonprofit organizations planned to make senior management hires, translating to 24,000 vacancies in 2009.
* Top barriers to finding suitable leaders included compensation and difficulty finding executives with specialized skills, as well as competition for the same in-sector talent pool and lack of resources to find or cultivate new leaders.
* Projected vacancies are largely the result of retirement, since much of the existing leadership is comprised of boomers. Vacancies also stem from new roles being created due to an increase in organizational complexity based on growth in prior years. The need is especially acute in human services and arts organizations.
* The most important attributes recruiters are seeking not only include relevant experience but also “cultural fit” or shared passion for the mission (68% on average cite fit as a very important asset. That number climbs to 82% in the education field).
* 73% of respondents said that they value for-profit experience in a candidate.
* 53% of U.S. nonprofits with revenue over $1 million have significant for-profit management experience represented on their senior management teams, including 20% in financial roles. Additionally and perhaps surprisingly, 42% of the executive directors surveyed had significant management experience in the private sector.
* 21% of those hired between June 2007 and December 2008 were “bridgers” coming from for-profit entities, while only 15% went in the reverse direction, indicating a net gain for non-profit organizations relative to their for-profit counterparts.
* Surprisingly, for a sector that is notorious for relying on personal relationships, job boards surpassed external networking for first place as a way to reach candidates, with 49 percent of organizations using job boards versus 44 percent using external networking to identify their candidates. 38 percent of respondents also used general print advertising, but it was found to be among the least effective tools. Only 13% of the organizations surveyed employed search firms, but found them highly effective.