Most Nonprofits are Struggling


According to a survey conducted last fall of 3,000 executives, staff, board members and donors, four of five nonprofits struggle with leadership and management issues.


As a consultant and former head of a nonprofit organization, I have seen the struggles that they face first-hand.


The Stanford Survey on Leadership and Management in the Nonprofit Sector found the following were among some of the most common challenges for nonprofits:

  • 56 percent struggle with weak board governance;

  • 52 percent struggle with fundraising;

  • Half struggle with impact evaluation;

  • 52 percent are not ready to scale their impact because they exhibit “weakness in strategic thinking,” such as, mission, strategy, impact evaluation, or insight and courage;” and,

  • 27 percent exhibit “weakness in strategic management,” such as, organization and talent, funding, or board governance, despite exhibiting strong strategic thinking.


Additionally, research by Meehan and Jonker on high-performance nonprofits suggested seven essential components of strategic leadership that are needed to maximize impact:

  • Mission – a focused, clearly-defined statement of purpose;

  • Strategy – a strategic framework based strictly on what matters most;

  • Impact Evaluation – a system to measure impact;

  • Insight and Courage – a commitment to applying heart and soul to each decision;

  • Organization and Talent – a superb team to build and sustain high performance;

  • Funding – an ability to build strategic revenue channels and to tap the right donors; and,

  • Board Governance – a strong, effective board of directors.


High-performing nonprofits need more than a compelling mission. Leadership and management are imperative for a nonprofit organization to succeed.

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