Posts Tagged by professional development
|January 31, 2013||Posted by M. P. under Management, Philanthropy, Research||
“You see, we have not been able to keep a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor for more than a year since I refused the post to Lord Voldemort.” —Albus Dumbledore
Have you ever wondered about that one position in your organization that seems to be a portal of sorts, depositing new faces into the office at a mildly alarming pace? Hmm. Why doesn’t any one person seem to hold it for very long? Why is that the only door in the office without a nameplate? What departmental antics could possible result in these once fresh-faced hires briskly stepping out the door one day never to return, nor be spoken of again?
In the Harry Potter series, a position at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is supposedly cursed by the evil wizard Lord Voldemort after he was passed over for the post. Those who hold it do so only briefly, all leaving (some more permanently than others) by the end of the term year. In J.K. Rowling’s tale, that position is the Defense Against the Dark Arts (DADA) professor. In the nonprofit sector, it’s the development director.
Ok, the comparison may be a bit of a stretch, but surely I am not the first to see the connection? Actually, considering the findings of a study (a joint venture between CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund) that pinpoints some disturbing trends in development comings and goings, there may be more similarities between the DD’s and the DADA’s than not. The report, UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising, identifies 3 hefty issues around securing and retaining development professionals,
- Turnover. Sadly, a high turnover rate is the rule rather than the exception in development. The average period of time a fundraiser holds a position is 16 months, not too much longer than the tenure of our fictitious DADA instructors. Unlike the professors, however, fundraisers tend to leave for salary and promotion concerns rather than because they are a werewolf or have a cell awaiting them at Azkaban prison. Thank goodness for that.
- Poor credentials or just a bad “fit”. Finding qualified, experienced candidates is not an easy task. Professor Gilderoy Lockhart shamelessly padded his wizardry skills to get the DADA gig (he ended up irreparably wiping out his memory due his lack of expertise – imagine your insurance provider’s response to that claim). A more likely scenario for a nonprofit – your dream development director’s resume of degrees, skills and accomplishments does not translate into similar outcomes at your nonprofit. Where was the disconnect?
- A lack of organization capacity and culture to achieve fundraising goals. The study found that 20% of nonprofits don’t even have a donor database. What? It’s 2013! Even the ill-fated professors had both cultural and systemic supports in place at Hogwarts. If nonprofit executives welcome their new development directors with a tour that ends with the equivalent of “Here is your office, we’ll be expecting your plan tomorrow and a full turnaround by next Tuesday,” well, is anyone surprised at the turnover rate?
Obviously the development director position isn’t really cursed, but it certainly has a set of challenges unique from others in nonprofit management. It may even be the most difficult position for a nonprofit to successfully fill. Why is that and can that reality be changed?
|November 18, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Management, News||
The Women’s College of The University of Denver recently released preview data from the upcoming second edition of the study Benchmarking Women’s Leadership indicating little to no growth of women in senior leadership positions in the United States since the 2009 study. Among sectors included in the release were the government/political arena and nonprofits, both areas which are considered more likely to have an equal gender split, if not more women, in their workforce.
In the government sector, women make up over ¼ of executive leadership positions, while among nonprofits, they account for 21 percent in organizations with annual budgets of over $25 million. Social entrepreneurship appears to be a niche where women-led enterprises are thriving in significant numbers, although women lag behind their male counterparts in the entrepreneurship sector overall. Despite evidence that many female entrepreneurs are excelling at startups, and that 20 percent of the top entrepreneurs of 2011 were women, they receive just 11 percent of available startup capital.
The complete results from the second edition of Benchmarking Women’s Leadership study will be released in spring of 2013.
The gender gap in advancement isn’t exactly news, but in the nonprofit sector, where the majority of the employees are women, why are so few reaching the top tier of management?
|October 8, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Evaluation, Management, Philanthropy||
Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming election, the nonprofit social services sector – from mental health clinics to food banks – will still be challenged to meet an increased need with fewer resources and limited funding. Savvy nonprofits have already moved toward an evaluation culture, embracing logic models and short-and-long term impact data to illustrate why (and how) their programs work. Organizational innovation and unique program accomplishments are practically prerequisites for making a successful connection with alternate funding sources, including corporate partnerships, yet nonprofits are still struggling to identify and quantify their impact on clients, the community, and the overall condition they work to modify. Performance measurement, logic model and outcomes are not new or faddish terms, so why the hesitation?
The report, Tough Times, Creative Measures: What Will it Take to Help the Social Sector Embrace an Outcomes Culture? from the Urban Institute, came out of a Fall 2011 event that brought together leaders from the government, nonprofit, philanthropy, and business sectors to discuss the issue of data-driven management in social and human services and the challenges related to successfully utilizing a performance management system. Some of the challenges identified:
The difficulty of turning away from the organization’s immediate needs to plan and implement a measurement system. No matter how small the agency, the demands on the executive director’s time and talent are immense. Writing up an organization-wide evaluation strategy and implementation plan, including models, indicators, instruments, and data collection plans is an enormous amount of work – and I haven’t mentioned the pilot testing, analysis and reporting aspects. The role of director should be to communicate progress and needs with the board as they guide the agency through this kind of culture change, not create every step of the process.
The reality that sometimes the best outcomes may not be rewarded. Conspiracy theories and snarky excuses aside, well-crafted stories, high profile connections and nonprofits with missions or target audiences that are more interesting or appealing than your own may have an easier time selling their effectiveness. That said, incomplete or inaccurate information on program impact won’t help remedy the situation.
Some nonprofits may be waiting for the trends to flip and the tides to turn. Why move heaven and earth within your organization to embrace a culture that may seem like a phase (especially to long-time employees who have seen edicts from funders come and go). Buy-in for outcomes tracking and reporting may be based on acceptance of the hoop-jumping norms, not the real value of performance measurement to the overall health of the organization. It is time for boards and directors to be brave and commit to an organizational culture change – but be prepared to illustrate how it will be beneficial for staff and (more importantly) clients.
In response to these and other impediments, I mean realities, the symposium attendees identified strategic areas that would have the most impact in encouraging and implementing a data-centered culture: human and financial capital – the tenacity and the tab, creative advocacy – sector giants to back this shift, and ready-to-use systems and tools so directors don’t have to start from square one. How can nonprofit leaders better model and manage a measurement culture? Why are some nonprofits hesitant to embrace this shift?