As Baby Boomers Retire, Who do NPOs Hire?

Posted by on Nov 17, 2010 in Managing Not-For-Profit Organizations

Leadership in any organization is essential, but there is an interesting trend occurring in the non-profit sector. With many Baby Boomers leaving their posts as Executive Director in non-profit organizations, who is going to take their place? In a recent study conducted by Carman, LeLand and Wilson (2010), it was reported that out of the Executive Directors surveyed, 51% were retiring in the next five years. How this affects the future of non- profit organizations is interesting and multi-faceted.

Succession planning is an important part of sustaining every non-profit. According to Tierney (2006) “Over the next decade nonprofits will need to find some 640,000 new executives, nearly two and a halftimes the number currently employed.” This sober statistic sheds light on the growing need to replace leadership in the non-profit sector. Due to the large amount of positions being vacated, questions about who is going to fill those positions have been prominent.

Many young workers employed in the non-profit sector have concerns with continuing their career in that arena. The Meyer Foundation (2006) found that over two-thirds (69%) feel they are underpaid for the work they currently do. Lack of mentorship, lack of recognition and frustration from overextension suggests that there needs to be a shift in the management of non-profits in order to quell growing apprehension among Gen Y and Gen X leaders about pursuing a career in NPOs.

An investment in human resources of an organization in order to endure this shift in leadership will could help assuage those who are tempted by the perks of for-profit industry. It will be interesting to observe how the change in leadership that is occurring alters the structure of non-profits, and the approach taken to fill executive positions. What solutions or tactics have you seen to address this trend?

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