Today at 2pm EST, the Center for Creative Leadership will host a Twitter chat on Nonprofit Leadership, in conjunction with American Express Philanthropy. This post begins the discussion, with Shera Clark, CCL’s Nonprofit Sector Director, shedding light on three of the major leadership challenges driving today’s nonprofit landscape. 

1. Economic Unrest

After the 2008 financial crisis, the loss of funding created a huge resource problem for the nonprofit sector and increased the need for services. More nonprofit organizations now compete for fewer dollars.  Funders and donors question their own decisions on why they should give to a particular nonprofit organization. It has become more crucial for a nonprofit to state why they acquire their funds and how they use those dollars.  This new environment is pushing nonprofit organizations to be more accountable.

2. Leadership Succession

Research studies on nonprofits suggest that there is a leadership capacity deficit in the nonprofit sector. Nonprofit organizations need to build their leadership capacity and improve their succession planning.  The nonprofit sector has wonderful leaders and these leaders have passionately participated in the sector’s growth over the years.  Yet, some of these same leaders find it difficult to guide the organization’s strategic plan and may not have a succession plan in place.  While leadership seats in these organizations may not be currently vacant, a retirement or a quick departure from the organization could leave the nonprofit organization empty-handed when it comes to leadership succession.

3. Change Management

Nonprofit leaders are tasked with managing change; being creative with their resources, using volunteers, selecting board members who can contribute in multiple ways, retaining and hiring the appropriate staff, all while facing multiple changes at the same time.  A change in mindset and a change in behavior are the keys to meeting the demands of a nonprofit’s constituency.

Nonprofits must find new ways to operate – their mission may not change, but how they go about it probably needs to change.  Nonprofit organizations are true to their mission, whether it is serving the homeless or dealing with disaster relief, but today these organizations have more accountability for seeking funding, retaining staff, and managing change.  Big or small, nonprofit organizations face major challenges and must continue to evolve.

What challenge will be the most difficult for your nonprofit organization to overcome? 

Are there other issues related to sustainability that are more prevalent today than they were, say, two years ago?  What brought those issues to the forefront recently? 

 Join the Twitter discussion at 2pm EST today and provide your own ideas and solutions by searching hashtag #amexleads.

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