Survey Finds Frustration among Nonprofit Leaders

July 1, 2011 ( - A new national study of nonprofit executive directors finds that two-thirds of executives plan to leave their jobs within the next five years.

In the study, Daring to Lead 2011, executive directors cited frustration with their organizations’ shaky finances, under-performing boards of directors, and the difficulty of maintaining healthy work-life balance in their demanding roles as reasons they plan to leave. A press release said the number of respondents who said they were leaving in this study- 67% – is somewhat lower than in the two previous studies, with executives’ responses suggesting that the recession may have temporarily slowed executive departures.  

Almost half of respondents (45%) said their boards had not reviewed their performance within the past year, and only 18% said that their performance review was useful. Executive coaching was ranked highest by respondents as a very effective professional development strategy, but just 10% of respondents were working with a coach.   

Most respondents – 84% – reported negative organizational impact from the recession, with one in five reporting significant negative impact. Nearly half of respondents (46%) said their organizations had operating reserves of less than three months of expenses, even though three months is the minimum level of reserves suggested by most experts.   

The study was conducted by San Francisco-based CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the Meyer Foundation in Washington, D.C. More than 3,000 executive directors responded to an online survey.   

The complete report can be downloaded at