As many of you know from the emails going across this listserve, the report has gained considerable traction since its release in Fall 2011:
- In January, the Foundation Center did a podcast about the report with Trish and YNPNsfba Board Chair Amanda Pape Laneghan.
- Just a few days later, The Chronicle of Philanthropy hosted Trish and Jan Masaoka for an online conversation about employee morale where report drove much of the discussion.
- Idealist.org invited YNPN National to write a blog post about "Good in Theory."
In addition, some chapters and organizations are researching ways to conduct local versions of the national report. Others have integrated the report into their programming. Some have even hosted parties celebrating the report's release.
Help us keep all of this momentum going strong! Let us know what your chapter has done. Maybe your chapter's story will be featured by YNPN National!
Please complete the "Good in Theory" survey by Thursday, March 28. Please complete the survey even if your chapter has not yet done anything with the report. It will only take a few minutes and give National some valuable information about how the report has been used and how it can better support the chapters across the country.
We look forward to hearing from you and learning what your chapter has accomplished.
Trish Tchume, director of Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN), National, and Amanda Pape Lenaghan, Co-chair of YNPN San Francisco Bay Area (YNPNsfba) and Deputy Director Bay Area at Taproot Foundation, were recently interviewed by the Foundation Center for the Philanthropy Front and Center blog.
They discussed the recent YNPN report Good in Theory Problems in Practice: Young professionals’ views on popular leadership development strategies. The interview provides a great overview of the findings, what was surprising in the findings, and what the findings are saying about the future leadership of the nonprofit sector.
- Listen now! Hear the podcast through the GrantSpace multimedia archive.
It’s not news that the job of nonprofit Executive Director is challenging and demanding. Often filling roles that would be several staff positions if the funding allowed, Executive Directors are expected to master a broad set of skills in order to effectively lead their organization and ensure its sustainability. However, we are learning that in order to meet those demands an increasing number of Executive Directors are employing strategies to share leadership within their organization in order to distribute responsibility and to develop staff bench strength.
In Daring to Lead 2011 Brief 2: Inside the Executive Director Job, CompassPoint and the Meyer Foundation highlight this growing trend toward shared leadership in the nonprofit sector. A collaborative approach to leading an organization can range from engaging staff in the responsibility of decision-making to replacing the singular executive role with several executive-level leaders. Defined broadly, the vast majority of the respondents in the Daring to Lead study described their leadership style as shared or inclusive of others within the organization. As a result, the report recommends executives, boards, and funders consider support for operationalizing shared leadership within the sector.
These findings are supported by YNPN’s 2011 National Voice Initiative, which surveyed over 1,100 emerging nonprofit leaders across the country. Conducted in Spring 2011 with a full report release expected in October 2011, YNPN’s National Voice Survey tested several interventions targeting leadership development in the nonprofit sector. The findings demonstrate that there a growing number of nonprofit organizations experiencing positive change through shared leadership. YNPN asked young leaders their perspective on moving away from traditional models of the Executive Director role by decentralizing responsibility and flattening the hierarchy. Although only a small percentage of respondents had experienced such changes in their organization, a significant majority of those respondents reported the changes were effective in building more sustainable and collaborative organizations. This positive response was significantly higher than any other intervention tested in the survey.
The results of the Daring to Lead and YNPN’s National Voice Initiative point us in the direction of an inclusive approach to organizational leadership, one that does not depend on one leader or structure but rather a team of leaders and a nimble organization ready to seize opportunities and address challenges. This approach not only relieves some of the burden placed on Executive Directors to be many things to many people, but also creates opportunities for young leaders in the organization to emerge. One of the hallmarks of the younger generation is a tendency toward collaboration, and this inclination will serve the nonprofit sector well as these young professionals take on Executive roles. Regardless of whether the structure is overtly nontraditional or simply inclusive of staff engagement, it is likely the nonprofits of the future will be employing this community-minded approach. The inclusivity that has made this sector so appealing to young people will be applied to our internal organizational models, resulting in a built-in development structure that values the talents and strengths of the team.
This post comes to us from Lydia McCoy, Danielle Holly, and Dan Dobin- YNPN National board members and members of YNPN National's National Voice Committee, the team preparing for the upcoming release of a report on leadership. Look for YNPN’s full report on emerging leadership and tested leadership strategies this November, and visit http://ynpn.org for more about engaging the next generation of nonprofit leadership.
The report highlights some of the biggest challenges facing the nonprofit sector today and provides insight into how young professionals and the organizations they work for are working to address these issues.
We can’t thank local YNPN chapters enough for all the support they’ve provided in making this report reflect the unique perspectives and innovative ideas of YNPN members across the country. Over the past few months, five of our local chapters have conducted focus groups to bounce the high-level report findings off members who experience these issues every day on the ground. Members from across the country sounded off on the hot button issues of leadership development, diversity, new organizational structures, nonprofit compensation and the changing state of the sector.
These conversations, led by YNPN’s chapter leaders in Denver, Cincinnati, Twin Cities, Washington DC and Houston, bring the report findings to life, and we wanted to give you a preview of what our members are saying.
Why do you think some nonprofits embrace leadership development and others don't? Is it simply an issue of resources or are there other reasons why organizations aren't taking it on?
“Conversations on leadership change are not happening between those in power and those who are not in power. “ - YNPN member in D.C.
“What about the other way around? Do young people have plans to approach supervisors and others and talk about how to develop? I feel like my workplace would be supportive of those conversations. It has to be two ways!” - YNPN member in Twin Cities
When asked to hypothetically play the role of a philanthropist or ED and allocate a part of your budget, offering more competitive compensation was far and away the winner among all other categories. Why is this so important?
“Nonprofit people ARE competitive and results-driven and want their hard work reflected. “ – YNPN member in Cincinnati
“It doesn’t always need to be money. I think that it is sometimes extra vacation or shorter hours as compensation.” - YNPN member in Houston
What do you think are the biggest benefits/biggest drawbacks of changing traditional organizational structures?
“Spreading the director responsibilities makes that position more manageable and allows several peoples' strengths to come together.” – YNPN member in Denver
“I've worked in the linear style organizations and there was a lot of passing the buck- where no one had to have an answer but anyone could have the answer. We were always scrambling to run smoothly.” - YNPN member in Houston
Most survey respondents reported that the organizations they worked for had a diverse staff, but not at the management level. What are your thoughts on diversity in the sector?
“It's treating an adaptive issue as a technical issue. I worked at a place that had a checklist of things like ‘Do we have decorations of different cultures in our office?’. What it should be about is busting through your cultural paradigm.” -YNPN member from Twin Cities
“There are definitely more women in nonprofit sector than in the corporate sector, but there are still more men in leadership roles.” – YNPN member in Denver
Although many respondents were committed to ensuring their careers focused on social impact, only a portion of those were committed to the nonprofit sector. What are the implications for the sector?
“Why actually work at a nonprofit if I can make an impact in these other roles [nonprofit volunteer or board member] and not deal with negatives of nonprofit employment?” – YNPN member in Cincinnati
“We need to anticipate a shift that breaks down the line between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. That means finding ways for the for-profit model to be more responsible, and for nonprofits, looking toward new revenue models.” - YNPN member from Twin Cities
What are your ideas on how young nonprofit professionals can help solve these issues? Do you agree or disagree with the reactions of our members?
Read the YNPN’s 2011 National Voice Report A special thanks to YNPN’s local chapters in Denver, Cincinnati, Twin Cities, Washington DC and Houston for running focus groups and sharing the conversations with the network.