Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Friday, April 28, 2006

Daring to Lead 2006

CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and The Meyer Foundation have just released a new report, "Daring to Lead 2006," exploring the leading causes of nonprofit executive burnout; in particular, widespread frustration with boards of directors and funders, and dissatisfaction with their pay.

We've heard much of this before - this report is a follow-up to their 2001 Daring to Lead - but the numbers are updated, and some of the recommendations are fresh. Perhaps the new report is most instructive, however, in pointing out how little actually has changed in the five years since the original report.

In both 2001 and 2006, 75% of executive directors reported that they were planning on leaving their position within five years. Nine percent of the current respondents are already in the process of leaving. Despite good recommendations in the original report, the complaints of EDs are largely the same (boards, funders, money).

As a sector are we not taking care of ourselves? Most of us get into the sector precicely because we put the needs of others ahead of our own needs. We know we could make more money in the private sector, but we do this work because we want to help, we want to make a difference.

But, at some point, we have to step back and make sure that our own needs are met. Nobody can give indefinitely when they are harming themselves. I believe that this realization is what is behind a lot of the nonprofit executive turnover.

The rapid turnover of leadership, however, harms the sector even more. So, what can we do to make the nonprofit sector more welcoming and nurturing for our executive leaders? The recommendations in Daring to Lead are a start, but this is something we all - board, staff, consultants, and volunteers - must come to terms with and make a priority for our organizations.

Download both, the 2001 and 2006 Daring to Lead reports from CompassPoint's web site.

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