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Rhode Island Foundation Blog


We are proud to be part of the Rhode Island community! Follow our blog for the latest news and occasional commentary about what’s happening at the Foundation and around our great state.

Survey of nonprofit leaders says...
By Jill Pfitzenmayer / June 18, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...

A new study of Ocean State nonprofits finds that 60 percent of executive directors plan to leave their jobs within the next five years, 60 percent of organizations do not have succession plans, and about one-half of executive directors say no one in their organization is ready to step up into leadership positions. In fact, 21 percent say their organization should consider an alliance with another nonprofit the next time there is a vacancy in the executive director’s spot.

The “Leadership New England” report confirms our impression of the sector. That’s why our Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence has been ramping up capacity-building activities like workshops and professional development programs. We depend on our nonprofit partners to achieve our goals. They are our boots on the ground. We’re investing in growing the next generation of leaders in order to keep the sector strong.

The study, conducted by Boston-based Third Sector New England, surveyed nearly 100 Ocean State executive directors and board members to identify their current challenges and document what is needed to keep their organizations healthy and sustainable in the coming decade.

Fundraising, governance, and staff development are core areas of challenge for nonprofits. Forty-four percent of respondents say their organizations have no more than three months of cash reserves on hand and fifty-seven percent do not budget for professional development.

The report includes three overarching recommendations: shift the framework for succession planning to deep sustainability, shift board focus from fundraising to capacity building, and shift the structural paradigm to robust investment in the sector.

We funded the survey because we view strong leadership as a cornerstone for successful nonprofit organizations. The survey results lend additional support to the strategy behind our key programs and services for nonprofit board and staff members.

Even though the daily pressures of nonprofit governance and leadership are taxing, we are confident that they will respond favorably to the report’s data and recommendations and will take action to build innovative and resilient organizations.

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