New Reports Focus on Nonprofit Executive Leadership

Today the Meyer Foundation and CompassPoint Nonprofit Services released The Board Paradox, completing a series of three briefs based on a national study of more than 3,000 nonprofit executive directors. The briefs report survey results and findings not included in the Daring to Lead 2011 main report, which was released in late June. The three briefs in the series are:

  • Leading Through a Recession, which reports on how the recession has amplified pre-existing economic challenges for nonprofits, including inadequate government funding and insufficient cash reserves.
  • Inside the Executive Director Job, which explores how executives spend their time, how they work with staff, how they feel about the core aspects of their role, and the strategies they find most effective for personal development and support.
  • The Board Paradox, which reports that most executives are not spending a significant percentage of their time working with and supporting their boards – even though executive directors who spend more time on their boards report higher satisfaction with board performance.

The study was conducted by San Francisco-based CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the Meyer Foundation in Washington, DC. Executive directors responded to an online survey that asked about their career paths, likely tenure, their partnership with the board of directors, and the impact of the recession on their organizations. Meyer, CompassPoint, and other partner organizations – including foundations and management support organizations – distributed the survey to executive directors in eleven regions throughout the U.S. To supplement the survey, 70 executives participated in focus groups in San Francisco and Washington.

The three briefs and the main report can be downloaded at The interactive website includes information about methodology, executive director demographics, and additional data.