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Study Shows Alberta Nonprofit Leaders Leaving Posts Soon

(Oct. 3, 2005) Forty-one percent of nonprofit leaders in Alberta plan to leave their current position within the next two years, according to a new study by the Calgary Centre for Non-Profit Management.

An ever larger percentage of leaders (84 percent) predicted they would be seeking new employment within the next five years.

The study, Addressing the Leadership Challenge: Non-Profit Executive Directors' Views on Tenure and Transition in Alberta, surveyed 232 executive directors of nonprofit organizations in Calgary and across Alberta.

Seeking to understand why they were dissatisfied, the study asked participants to explain the ways their job has or has not met their expectations. The biggest surprise and disappointment to many executive directors was their level of involvement in fundraising. Many see excessive fundraising as a preoccupation that impedes other meaningful leadership work.

When asked to rate which factors had the greatest negative impact on their job satisfaction, 53 percent of respondents rated fundraising as having a 'very high' or 'high' impact. Other influencing factors were anxiety about finances, difficult human resources issues, stress, dealing with government requirements and long hours. Salary was rated as the seventh most important issue, although many expressed surprise at the relatively low level of salary compared to the amount of work.

Portending a Crisis?

According to the survey, 62 percent of respondents have not identified a successor with the suitable skills to replace them, and 86 percent indicated that their board of directors has not created a succession plan for their position.

Still, it is difficult to translate this expected turnover and lack of preparation into a potential crisis for the sector. Forty-two percent of organizations surveyed have had two or more executive directors over the past five years, indicating that many charities may be used to addressing these challenges. In addition, nearly 60 percent of respondents stated that their next job will probably be in the charitable sector.

'We're not necessarily seeing a mass exodus of leadership from the sector, but more often leaders switching organizations within the sector,' said AFP President and CEO Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE. 'For better or worse, high turnover is a commonplace occurrence in the sector, especially with the growth of charities over the past several years. Perhaps it's not a crisis, but it is a growing problem, especially for the individual charities affected. I applaud the Calgary Centre for examining this issue.'

The study is available at the Calgary Centre website.

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