Max Oliva, Associate Director of IE’s Social Impact Management
At least that is according to The Bridgespan Group’s recent study of the leadership requirements of nonprofits with revenues greater than $250,000 (excluding hospitals and institutions of higher education).
Tom Tierney, Chair and Co-founder of the Bridgespan Group, noted that “the amount of social impact a Nonprofit organization delivers is primarily dependent upon the capability and performance of the people in that organization … results are a ‘who thing’ … no principle is more fundamental.”
Their study (which includes an executive summary, a white paper, a financial model and a space for commentaries from other social players) states that if the sector where to experience a significant consolidation, this number might fall as low as 330,000. on the other hand, following other trends, on their study they calculate that the total could increase to more than one million.

Addressing this leadership deficit requirements, they consider that three imperatives must be addressed:
• Investment by NGO’s on leadership capacity
• Refinement of management rewards in order to retain and attract top talent
• Expansion of their recruiting horizons and fostering of individual career mobility
However, reaching the right mix of quantity and quality might also proof as a big challenge. According to Bill Bradeley, in the Harvard Business Review of 2004, there was in America alone a “$100 billion opportunity” for the non-profit sector to improve its efficiency through better management.
Moreover, John Whitehead considers that “a bright young person can have more impact on any Nonprofit in his first five years than on Goldman Sachs, which is full of bright young people. In their first year they could make ten suggestions that would improve the Nonprofit operation because they have been trained in practical business ways of thinking.”
Finally, Jim Collins considers that getting the right people is arguably even more important in the non-profit world than it is in business, because it is often harder for non-profits to get rid of employees once they are “on the bus”.
This leadership deficit looms as the greatest challenge facing nonprofits over the next ten years. What is the role of business schools in facing such a challenge?


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