Boomer Retirements May Mean Rethinking Your Nonprofit Model
By Thomas A. McLaughlin
Thomas A. McLaughlin
A major part of the pressure on nonprofits anticipating a leadership turnover will come from the fact that the birth rates of both the latter part of the Gen X generation (people ages 35-54) and all of the Millennial generation (ages 18-34) are half that of the Boomers. Todays status quo will eventually feel more like the status squeezed.
This situation will evolve relatively slowly, which should make it easier to accommodate, but harder to recognize. The best thing many nonprofits can do is to adjust their strategy planning now so that it fits the circumstances before they feel the leadership pinch.
Here are some suggestions:
Re-Work Your Staffing Patterns
If you are feeling the pressure at the bottom of your workforce as well as at the top, its time to re-think your staffing patterns. It would not be a surprise if your underlying assumptions about staffing are still embedded in the 1980 to 2000 era. And while youre doing this, be sure to apply the same scrutiny to your assumptions about your senior-most executives.
If you dont already know the year your nonprofit was founded, pull out your most recent federal Form 990 and look exactly three inches below the word income as in Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. Youll find a box labeled L and the words "Year of Formation" followed by the four-digit year of your corporations founding. If your organization was founded in the two or so decades since 1970, there is a chance that the organization is still at least partially grounded in that era.
One way to accommodate the realities of the twenty-first century is to grow your scale. The combination of declining birth rates and growing steady needs for service, e.g., aging clients with longer lifespans, is putting more pressure on many nonprofits. Lately there has been less instinctive opposition to mergers than had been true in the past. The advantage of larger scale operations run correctly is that the resulting efficienciesone back room, one human resources department, etc.can strengthen the entire organization.
Mergers may not be the right answer for your nonprofit, but the benefits of such combinationsshared resourcesmight be. I cant remember the last time I saw a true back office collaboration. However, if, say, three organizations get together they could readily negotiate discounts on large purchases, possible office rentals, etc.