Two-Thirds of Nonprofit Executives Plan to Leave Jobs Within Five Years, Study Finds

A majority of nonprofit executives are planning to leave their jobs within the next five years, an online survey conducted by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the Meyer Foundation finds.

The report, Daring to Lead 2011 (20 pages, PDF) analyzed responses from three thousand nonprofit executive directors about their career paths, likely tenure, partnerships with their board of directors, and the impact of the recession on their organizations. Building on similar studies conducted in 2001 and 2006, Daring to Lead also included the responses of seventy executives who participated in focus groups conducted in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

While the two previous studies found that three-quarters of executives said they planned to leave their jobs within five years, the latest survey found that the recession may have temporarily slowed executive departures. Indeed, the significant number of those still planning to leave suggests that executive turnover remains an ongoing concern for nonprofits, their boards, and other stakeholders.

According to Daring to Lead, 45 percent of respondents said their boards had not reviewed their performance within the past year and, of those who did receive performance reviews, only 18 percent said the feedback was helpful. Moreover, 84 percent reported that the recession had negatively affected their organization, with some 20 percent reporting significant negative impact. In addition, 46 percent said their organizations had operating reserves of less than three months of expenses.