Thursday, March 06, 2008

Report on the next generation of nonprofit leaders

Courtesy of the AAM-EMP listserv:

Young Nonprofit Leaders Concerned About Pay, Work-Life Balance, Report Finds

Although a diverse pool of committed young people would like to be nonprofit executive directors in the future, many of them say there are significant barriers to realizing that ambition, a new report from the Meyer Foundation finds.

Based on a national survey of nearly six thousand "next generation" leaders -- the largest such survey to date -- the report, Ready to Lead: Next Generation Leaders Speak Out (36 pages, PDF), found that young nonprofit staff are concerned that challenges such as work-life balance, insufficient lifelong earning potential, a lack of mentorship, and overwhelming fundraising responsibilities may prevent them from becoming nonprofit executives.

According to the study, which was conducted by the foundation in partnership with CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and, 64 percent of respondents have financial concerns about committing to a career in the sector, while only one-third aspire to become executive directors. Of those with such aspirations, 40 percent said they are ready now or will be within five years to take on such responsibilities. The survey also found that only 4 percent of nonprofit staff are being groomed to become their organization's leader, and that women are less likely to be developed as leaders than are men.

Paul Light, a professor at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service, told the Washington Post, "It's really a significant problem and one that is just so important to the future of the sector. Nonprofits are so focused on meeting their mission in the present tense, they don't think of succession planning for executive directors, they don't think of recruitment for future employees. It's just not on the agenda because they're under such pressure to deliver, especially during economic downturns like this."

"Young Leaders Concerned With Pay, Work-Life Balance, Report Says." Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation Press Release 3/03/08.

Rucker, Philip. "Crunch Predicted in Nonprofit Sector." Washington Post 3/03/08.


Lauren said...


My name is Lauren Kruer, I'm 26 and the VP of the board of my town's history and art museum. I was doing some research and came across your blog. I loved your article on young nonprofit leaders. We are infact looking for a nonprofit leader right now. Our museum is currently looking for an executive director. We will be posting this job on other sites and in the local paper. Being a young professional myself I wanted other young professional to know about this great opportunity.

Just a little bit about us. The museum is located in Palmer, Alaska. Palmer is really a neat place, it was one of the original new deal colonies set up by FDR. We are one of the few planned communities in Alaska, surrounded by nature, covered in culture, and growing an exponential rate. We have a modest museum that we are looking to grow into a cultural resource for the region. Our community has a great board, a beautiful town, and lots of energy. Now all we need is an executive director to help pull it all together.

Below I have pasted the job description and contact information. If you have any question please don't hesitate to contact me.

Thanks, Lauren Kruer
(see posting below)

723 S. Valley Way
Palmer, AK 99645


The Palmer Museum of History and Art (PMHA) requests applications from qualified applicants for the position of Museum Director. This is a part-time position expected to work 1,300 hours per year. The maximum annual initial salary is approximately $21,000-$25,000, depending on experience. Hours of work may increase due to receipt of project grants.

The Museum Director is hired by and works at the pleasure of the PMHA board of directors. The museum director is responsible for the organization’s consistent achievement of its mission and financial objectives. The president of board of directors is the museum director’s direct supervisor. The museum director is responsible for the operation, planning, and management of the PMHA in conformance with professional museum practices and standards for the management of collections held in the public trust, and interpretation of those collections through exhibitions and education.

The PMHA seeks applicants with at least three years of management experience with a non-profit or museum organizations, with an emphasis on education, community outreach and fund raising. The PMHA prefers applicants with at least three years of experience in museum management and/or operations. The successful applicant will have strong inter-personal and communication skills, and demonstrated success in working with non-profit or museum organizations to fulfill the board’s and the organization’s goals.

Applicants must submit complete applications to the president of the board of directors at the following address no later than 5:00 p.m., April 10, 2008:

President, Board of Directors
Palmer Museum of History and Art
723 S. Valley Way
Palmer, AK 99645

Applications must include the following information to be considered:
· a letter of application;
· a resume containing the applicant’s detailed job history for at least the previous fifteen years, including supervisors’ names and contact information;
· a sample of the applicant’s original, work-related writing of between two and four pages;
· three professional or personal references.

The Palmer Museum of History and Art is an equal opportunity employer. said...

First, we just wanted to thank you for all of your contributions to up-and-coming Museum Professionals...

Secondly, if you have a chance to create an account on and share some of your wisdom and experience there as well, we'd definitely welcome it :)


Nathan said...

Wow, talk about timing. I just read a couple of articles regarding this same topic just yesterday. One from the NY Times called "Impossible Job. What You Need for It", and another called "Turnover at the Top: Are Directors Burning Out?" from Museum News, May/June 2002. Both offered some great insight into the position and how the is a real lack of training internal staff to take over a director position.

Side note: Please check out It's a brand new website exclusively for museum reviews. Visitors rate and review their museum experiences for others to see.

Megan Wood said...

I am trying to get feedback from other young musuem professionals for a session I'm doing at AASLH, so if anyone out there is reading this I have a few questions I'm soliciting answers to. If you have a few minutes you can email your responses to I won' t be using names or specifics, I just wanted some more information to draw from.

How many jobs have you had since graduation?

What parts of your job did you feel prepared for because of graduate school?

What other skills, classes, or opportunities would have helped you once you were working? Was there something you didn't learn about in graduate that would have made your first (or subsequent jobs) easier?

Does your current job provide you with professional development opportunities?

If you changed jobs since graduation, what were the contributing factors?

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