Wait, Didn’t I Just Read This?

Following a link from an entry on the Non-profiteer, I arrived at a site with a report about Non-profit leadership. The summary of the study was so similar to the Building Movement report I cited last month, I initially thought it was the same one mirrored by a partner in that 2004 study.

Come to find out this study, Ready to Lead? Next Generation Leaders Speak Out is brand spanking new having just come out this year to report a survey of 5756 members of members of Idealist.org and constituents of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services. They also held six focus groups across the country with 55 non-profit staffers who had never been executive directors.

This survey included a much larger sample size than Building Movement’s (though they certainly acknowledge BM) but generally gets the same responses. People feel they need to balance their work and personal lives, they aren’t terribly keen on becoming executive directors, don’t feel they are being mentored or have many professional development opportunities. There are some nice charts graphs and charts on the report home page, (on the Myer Foundation website by the way), that summarize many of the results. Top two of five reasons not to become Executive Director-Don’t want Fundraising responsibilities and Would Have to Sacrifice Work-Life Balance.

There were two results that I hadn’t seen before that I thought were interesting. First is that 10% more people of color were desired to become executive director than whites and people of lower income were wanted to become executive director than people from middle and upper class backgrounds. I should note that a large number of those belonging to the surveyed organizations are associated with social service/justice, health services, environmental protection/justice organizations rather than specifically with the arts.

The second finding I found interesting was that people of color and women felt they needed more education and training time before becoming executive director than white men who tended to feel they were ready now. The surveyors attribute this more to the fact that more men than women and people of color hold senior positions and are being groomed to be executive director in twice the number. They believed women and people of color felt the need to be over-educated and burgeoning with experience in reaction to this.

I should point out the survey also notes that a large portion of their sample were unemployed (11%) or in the first year (43%) of their career. I do feel women and people of color need better representation, but I don’t want my entry to serve as fodder for protest when the numbers are so slanted. I think this mix is fine for reporting aspirations but not necessarily for reporting the reality of a situation. For example, only 4% of those surveyed said they were being groomed to be executive director. However in a 2006 survey of executive directors conducted by the same group, “52% of executive directors reported actively developing one or more people on their staffs to be executive directors someday.” The relative lack of experience in this sample needs to be taken into account when looking at some of these results.

One thing I liked about the Myer Foundation website is the resource page. I will admit to only taking a cursory glance at a few of the blogs and other resources but I liked what I saw. For example, this entry on The Bamboo Project Blog that suggests using a webcam, computer and internet calling services like Skype to turn Baby Boomers retirees into long distance mentors and recording the sessions to create a mentoring library. (The use of which will require the cultivation of learning as a value among non-profit leaders, of course.)

There are also a number of links about retirement planning. The lack of which emerged as a motivating factor on many fronts in both this survey and the one Building Movement did a few years ago.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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