ED as 'Heroic Martyr' Hinders Nonprofit Leadership Succession

April 27th, 2016 by Peter Lowy

The nonprofit executive director as "heroic martyr"—committed, overworked, trying to do ever more with the same or shrinking resources—doesn't serve the organization and may dissuade new generations of potential leaders from taking over, attendees at a panel discussion in Boston were told earlier this week.

Articulating the sentiment was Hez Norton, director of partnership and leadership initiatives at Third Sector New England (TSNE), speaking on "The Future of Nonprofit Leadership" at Boston University's Questrom School of Business, who presented key findings from a TSNE nonprofit leadership survey completed last year.

Other panelists, as well as many among the 50 attendees, agreed with Norton.

Said Danny LeBlanc, chief executive officer of the Somerville Community Corporation for the last 15 years, "We role model things I wouldn't want to emulate if I were 30."

Shirronda Almeida, director of the Mel King Institute for Community Building in Boston, concurred, observing that because Millennials, those born from 1982 through 2002, are looking to make an impact and less interested in functioning within traditional organizational hierarchies, current nonprofit leaders need to reduce stress from the top job and focus more on what type of organization they want to leave behind.

While the event was organized to stimulate discussion on a key survey finding—that 64% of nonprofit leaders across New England, and 78% in Boston, said they intend to retire within five years—panelists acknowledged that numerous regional and national surveys for at least the past 15 years have developed similar projections, which have yet to materialize.

Jennifer Aronson, senior director of program and nonprofit effectiveness at The Boston Foundation, said nonprofits have not yet seen a massive leadership turnover, because many Baby Boomer nonprofit leaders are not ready to retire. 

"They feel they're on the side of good and push themselves," she said, which results in leaders protecting the organization as it is today instead of thinking about the best way to make an organizational impact. She added, "We say we can do more with less, but that's not realistic."

One possible response, Aronson suggested, is for nonprofits to practice leadership sharing, which helps more people within the organization more fully understanding how it functions.

Another response is for nonprofits to learn to say "no" to funders who underfund projects. 

"Nonprofits need to be realistic regarding what it costs to do programs, and reject funding if it is not enough," said Norton, himself a former nonprofit executive director who changed the direction of his career because "the work takes its toll."

Key findings from the TSNE Leadership New England report included the following:

  • 58% of nonprofit leaders and 62% of nonprofit board members said their organizations do not have any type of succession plan in place. 
  • Two-thirds of leaders (64%) and half of board members (52%) said they do not believe there is someone on the staff who could succeed the executive.
  • One-third (32%) of all leader and board respondents said they believe there is enough “bench strength” in their organizations, that is, “people who can step into leadership/management roles if and when needed.”
  • 35% of Massachusetts nonprofit leaders said it is essential to have support for developing succession plans, and slightly more (37%) said it is essential to provide funds for developing professional staff.
  • 60% of Massachusetts nonprofit leaders earn $99,000 per year or less.

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A Sign of North Shore Housing Discrimination

April 20th, 2016 by Rosa Ordaz

We have had a lot going here at HCP lately.

We are working every day to provide good, safe, and affordable housing all around the North Shore.

This is housing for retired, fixed income seniors, people with disabilities, and working families.

This is housing that, as a community, as a county, and as a state, we need more of and in varying forms.

Currently, HCP is working through a court process for a Wenham project (Maple Woods), as we passionately defend our permit to build 60 affordable senior units. The legal process is hard, expensive, and time consuming. While we pour ourselves into this struggle, the human and financial resources expended preclude us from working in other ways and in other communities to help people who need it.

HCP is also looking into and contemplating new housing in Hamilton, Beverly, and Rockport. There will be much more on these potential projects in the near future. This is not easy.  The hurdles are difficult to navigate, be they complicated financial structures, addressing environmental concerns, being strategic in planning for human needs into the coming decades, and more. But the most distressing hurdle is the one which became very evident on busy Route 1A, as we begin to explore a new project.  This discriminatory and erroneous sign, in reference to a potential mixed use family and elder development, is the hurdle which most saddens us, gives us pause, but ultimately, strengthens our resolve.

In the midst of myriad meetings, late nights, emails, phone conversations, and too many cups of coffee, I was profoundly struck by two things, which not just gave me pause, but stopped me in my tracks.
1.One, a plea for help. We received an email last week from a family. Essentially, the email stated….We have children. We work full time at a local health care facility. We are in a local homeless shelter. We have first and last months rent. We can move in anytime……While we receive these emails daily, this one came in the midst of our preparation for court regarding Maple Woods. The email came in as we think about and talk with other communities about what it will cost to pursue unit creation for this working family and too many others who reach out to us. But most poignantly, It came just before this afore mentioned sign was erected.
2.The next moment came as I told my seven year old daughter about the email from the family. It was told in part to explain to my child where dad had been all week and why. Her response was, without hesitation, “Dad….they could live with us!”

I was trying to teach her something…my daughter. Instead she is teaching all the rest of us.   “Dad…they could live with us…..”

So how about it North Shore? Can they live with us? Can teachers, firefighters, nurses, retirees, carpenters, office staff, and others live with us?

If we want them to live with us, then we all need to stand up and say so.

Good people of good will need to use their voices in each community on the North Shore and say that it is good and right and responsible for us to make housing available across the region for our elders, our disabled neighbors, our children, our employees and those upon whose services we depend.

So how about it? What are you going to do about it now that it is on your mind? Please do something. It’s time to do something. Do what you can do to help make this happen.

You can do it.

~ Andrew

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2016 Annual Small Business Technical Assistance Grantee Meeting

April 13th, 2016 by Joe Kriesberg

On March 11th the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation held its annual Small Business Technical Assistance Grantee Mid-year meeting at Babson College in Wellesley, MA.  MACDC President Joe Kriesberg, a board member of MGCC, attended the event along with more than a dozen MACDC member organizations that participate in the technical assistance program.

“The attendees represented the “best of the best” of small business assistance providers from across the Commonwealth and it is a privilege to have MGCC partnering with their efforts” said Larry Andrews, President and CEO of MGCC.

Mr. Kriesberg was there to talk to the grantees and participants about MACDC's current legislative advocacy efforts to retain funding for the program in the FY 2017 state budget.  He noted that Governor Baker is supporting the program and we have strong allies in the House and Senate. At the same time, he urged everyone to contact their legislators to ensure continued funding.

The meeting also provided an opportunity for small business support organizations to network, share best practices and hear from organizations that can help strengthen their programs.  Claudia Green, Executive Director of English for New Bostonians, shared an informative and inspiring presentation on the resources available for English as Second Language (ESL) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) startups and entrepreneurs.  NewVue Communities Director of Small Business Assistance, Ray Belanger, talked about how their organization methodically and strategically expanded its program to serve the entire North Central Mass region.  Finally, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice and the Conservation Law Foundation provided information on how they can provide businesses with free  legal resources.  

MGCC's Small Business Technical Assistance Grant program is designed to complement and enhance the traditional public and private small business assistance network by providing technical assistance or training programs for underserved and disadvantaged businesses with 20 employees or fewer.  The grant recipients, which are selected in a competitive process, include community development corporations, micro-lenders and chambers of commerce. MGCC awarded grants to 30 organizations across the Commonwealth in Fiscal Year 2016.

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