In the past decade, according to the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the average tenure of nonprofit Chief Development Officers (CDOs) has shortened to about two to three years. Nonprofit human resources and executive search professionals have grown increasingly curious about why this has been happening. Some have suggested that this presents organizations with problems; however, we could be seeing a trend that will require nonprofits to evolve.
My colleagues in Executive Search and I are undertaking a focused project to explore this question, including a broad-based survey of nonprofit CEOs and CDOs and an extensive review of corporate models for optimal tenures of C-Suite executives. Along the way, we welcome insights from our friends in the development world. Please feel free to leave your comments and ideas down below.
An Organizational Challenge?
Many development professionals spend two to three years in a position before moving on to assume progressively greater fundraising responsibilities. The CDO position has often been construed as the highest-level development role; however, as this table from the Chronicle of Philanthropy shows, CDOs assume significant strategic responsibilities beyond fundraising.
Some see the CDO position as too large of a step from prior development roles, and cite a variety of potential issues with this model, including unreasonable expectations, inadequate support from leaders and Boards, and insufficient recognition
If this is the case, then the question becomes how to better “care and feed” for CDOs to ensure that they can remain with organizations for longer periods of time.
An Emergent Trend?
But perhaps we should not assume that this is a problem. Nonprofit development professionals may be telling us two to three years is ideal for CDOs. If so, we need to determine how to maximize CDOs’ time in the position and to ensure that nonprofits are prepared for quicker turnover.
We hope that our research will help illuminate these questions. We will be continuing this conversation through:
2013 AFP International Conference
Campbell & Company Webinar
Published articles following the conference and webinar
If you have questions concerning this topic, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marian Alexander DeBerry is the Director of Executive Search at Campbell & Company and has more than 14 years of search experience in the nonprofit and corporate sectors.
Americans gave 4 percent (.09% adjusted for inflation) more in 2011 compared to 2010, according to Giving USA 2011, the 57th annual report by the Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Donations to charity rose to $298.42 billion, but were still $11 billion below a 2007 record as giving continues to recover from the recession. As organizations weather through the economic challenges, two distinct trends have emerged in executive recruitment: organizations want quality high-level candidates and they want them fast.
Marian Alexander DeBerry, Director of Executive Search, Campbell & Company, describes how, “We are seeing cautious confidence in organizations. They are adding to their staff, which represents a big change from a year ago.”
A 2011 survey of executive directors by Nonprofit HR Solutions found that 60 percent of respondents were actively looking for newly available talent, nearly double 2010 totals. Forty-three percent of nonprofits will be hiring new workers throughout this year.
The demand for finding competent and talented high-level executives is higher than it has ever been before. ”Partially, it is because a considerable number of high-level executives have reached a retirement age and many organizations do not have a succession plan in place,” explains Ms. DeBerry.
“And speed has become an issue as well. More and more often our clients are asking how soon we can close their searches. This has been especially true with organizations that have attempted to conduct a search in-house…they believe they have already lost valuable time. With our extensive reach into the world of nonprofit leadership, we can help save—or make up for lost—time.”
Overall, Campbell & Company has found that nonprofits remain cautiously optimistic in the current philanthropic climate.
“Despite this hopeful spike in recruiting, we are not anywhere near where we were in 2006 – 2007 when hiring was in full swing,” states Ms. DeBerry. “Organizations are being more strategic about what positions they need to fill and more demanding about the type of people they’re looking to hire.”
For more information on Campbell & Company’s Executive Search services, contact Marian Alexander DeBerry.
For complete Giving USA report information, please visit Giving USA.
About Campbell & Company
Campbell & Company is a national consulting firm offering advancement planning, fundraising, marketing communications and executive search services to nonprofit organizations in nearly every sector. Through thirty-six years and more than a thousand engagements, we helped our clients anticipate and manage the challenges of the philanthropic marketplace. Our offices are located in Chicago, Boston, Portland, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, DC. For more information, please call toll-free (877) 957-0000, email email@example.com or visit www.campbellcompany.com.
About Giving USA Reports
Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy is published by Giving USA FoundationTM and is a public service initiative of the Giving Institute. Giving USA is the longest running, most comprehensive report on philanthropy in America. For more information, visit www.GivingUSAReports.org.
About Giving USA FoundationTM
Advancing the research, education and public understanding of philanthropy is the mission of Giving USA Foundation, founded in 1985 by the Giving Institute. Headquartered in Chicago, the Foundation publishes data and trends about charitable giving through its seminal publication, Giving USA, and quarterly reports on topics related to philanthropy. Visit www.GivingUSA.org for more information.
About The Center on Philanthropy
The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University is a leading academic center dedicated to increasing the understanding of philanthropy and improving its practice worldwide through research, teaching, training and public affairs programs in philanthropy, fundraising and management of nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit http://www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/
Nonprofit organizations need the right leaders to sustain and succeed in their work; however finding individuals whose qualifications and professional experiences align with an organization’s culture and expectations can present a range of challenges. In our 13 years of executive search experience, we have seen how chaired search committees can smoothly facilitate searches for executive-level positions, adding tremendous value to the process.
Search Chair and Committee
Search chairs lead the search process. A chair who understands the needs and culture of an organization can drive the successful and timely selection of a qualified and talented candidate. The chair serves as a liaison to the board or hiring manager on all search-related issues.
Additionally, the chair helps form the committee for a particular search. Ideally small in size, the committee should include a diverse group of stakeholders, as a variety of perspectives contributes to a fuller profile of an ideal candidate’s skills, experience and personality. The work of the search committee falls into four general areas: developing an agenda and search plan; recruiting candidates; screening candidates; and interviewing and recommending final candidates to the board or hiring manager.
Developing an Agenda and Search Plan
The search chair sets the agenda for the entire search and instructs the designated committee on its role. This includes assigning duties to committee members, communicating with candidates and / or contacting references.
Using an executive search firm in combination with a search committee often adds value to the process and expedites the search. The committee should decide whether the organization will conduct the search or engage an outside firm.
Recruiting the New Leader
Once the search committee is formed, the process of creating the candidate profile begins. Effective searches require position descriptions that clearly indicate the required qualifications and experience.
After clearly defining the position description, the search committee and committee chair determines the recruiting strategy. A comprehensive approach will include making a formal announcement, networking, direct sourcing, and other search marketing efforts. For each area, the search committee develops and reviews key search documents including:
- Position guide and announcements
- Posting and advertising schedules
- Interview questions
- Offer letters
Additionally, the committee confirms expected compensation range and benefits of candidates early in the process.
Screening Potential Candidates
The committee should spare no effort in screening applicants, as a thorough review helps identify the most qualified candidates. The search committee will also define the interview process, including the types of interviews to be conducted (panel or individual meetings) and interview participants.
After identifying a potential group of candidates, the committee facilitates interviews, and, as strong individuals emerge, it coordinates a rigorous referencing process.
In the final decision-making stage, the chair leads discussion on the candidates, ensuring that all members of the committee are heard. After helping build consensus, the chair recommends a final candidate on behalf of the committee to the board or the hiring manager.
A Search Process Should Be Rigorous but Flexible
Every search brings a distinctive set of challenges so it is important that the process be rigorous but flexible. The committee chair helps take an innovative approach to managing the search and considering variables unique to the organization. And a flexible, dedicated search committee working in unison with this chair is critical to a great search process.
To learn more about the role of the search chair and committee, and what Campbell & Company Executive Search has to offer, contact Marian Alexander DeBerry, Director, Executive Search at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every CEO or Executive Director will leave an organization at some point. Setting up a succession plan ahead of time will alleviate uncertainty, assure continuity of strategy and create a logical transition process.
In today’s nonprofit environment, top leaders (executive directors, CEOs and presidents) view the role as a short-term tenure, maybe only two to three years. Organizations need to plan in advance for the inevitable search and transition process. Campbell & Company works with organizations and institutions from all sectors to facilitate the executive search process.
“When an organization’s leader steps down, it always creates anxiety,” according to Kris McFeely
, Campbell & Company Executive Search Consultant. “Having a transition plan in place in anticipation of the event can put staff and stakeholders at ease.” McFeely and another C&C consultant, Dan Nevez
, recently discussed succession strategies at Managing Transition: Preparing for New Leadership,
part of Campbell & Company’s national webinar series.
In fact, the absence of a plan often stirs anxiety, even if the leader shows no intention of leaving. Nevez says while working with an organization on a recent leader transition project, a board member confided, “We didn’t have a plan with the other board I was on. I was nervous all
the time.” Stakeholders, including staff and donors, might harbor those same concerns, though silently. The preparation of a plan can allay such fears. An emergency leadership plan
Every organization should, in advance, outline a plan to address any abrupt leadership changes. This should include a list of potential interim leaders,an updated CEO/executive director/president job description, and access to financial accounts and technology systems. Key stakeholders should be informed as quickly as possible before the event hits the media.
And one spokesperson should be designated as a communication point person for the organization so that the messaging is consistent. This plan should be updated annually by the board. The search committee
Once a leader has announced plans to step down, the staff will be looking to the board almost immediately for a “what’s next” response. Having a process in place with clearly outlined steps will calm jitters and help build forward momentum. The first step is to assemble a search committee, often from the board but also sometimes with non-board representatives. A search chair will lead the process.
McFeely warns that board members, often used to recruitment in the for-profit world, may not understand the intricacies of nonprofit recruitment. “The decision to hire top people in business often is made by one or two key individuals. Not so in nonprofits. The nonprofit board must form a consensus around the selected individual. They must present a unified front to stakeholders.” This sometimes draws out the recruitment timetable to six months or longer, and search committee members should be aware of the investment in time.
The search chair
Providing a framework for the search process is the responsibility of the search chair. There should be a structured system for interviewing and evaluating candidates based on the goals set forth by the board and the committee. “You’ll want to see how they solve problems and identify behavioral qualities that would hint at success or failure in the position,” Nevez says. Board members should receive a fairly detailed document that will guide their interviews. Internal candidates
It is not unusual for a staff person to express interest in the top position. McFeely advises not to neglect a complete recruitment search even with the presence of a strong internal candidate. “I always encourage clients to treat the staff member like any other candidate, holding them to the same rigorous evaluations as the other options,” she explains. “That way, if they are selected, they know they were
the top candidate.” She also warns that board members who are interested in the position should resign immediately from the board to avoid sabotaging the process. The decision
After the discovery process, the search chair will then focus the board toward a decision consensus. The chair also respectfully notifies unsuccessful candidates. “At this level in an individual’s career, it is important to provide honest feedback on a decision not to hire,” advises Nevez. Onboarding
Once a selection has been made, the process of assimilating the successor, or onboarding, can take several forms. Sometimes there is a two-week overlap while the outgoing leader passes the reins to the successor. McFeely suggests identifying either a senior staff or board member, who will help with the assimilation and act as a sounding board during the first year of tenure. Leadership during a sabbatical
Events might introduce a short-term leadership opportunity, as nonprofits sometimes allow leaders to take one-year sabbaticals for field work or academic studies.
McFeely and Nevez suggest hiring a professional interim CEO who will provide stability to an organization in the leader’s absence. “It is a good opportunity to find an individual with specific skills that can be culled for a short-term strategy. If you know you’ll be implementing a new IT system, find someone with IT expertise,” McFeely suggests.
If there is a major campaign on the horizon, bring on a leader with strong fundraising success.
For additional questions, please contact email@example.com
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