White House Forum Addresses Nonprofit Leadership Issues: Anything New Here?

November 15, 2011; Source: Nonprofit AlternativesBlogger Heather Carpenter reported on the White House Forum on Nonprofit Leadership by monitoring the content of the participants’ social media postings, and concluded, “What’s being said at the Forum is nothing new, we’ve heard it many times by many different speakers at many different conferences, and in many different reports.” NPQ also took a peek at the tweets and postings, and we had the same feeling. Carpenter reprinted tweets such as these to make her point:

  • “It’s not just about the ED, it’s about every single leader in your organization.” John Ryan at Center for Creative Leadership #nplead
  • “If we’re not developing leaders FROM w/in communities, I fear that we will not actually solve pressing problems.” John Rice #nplead
  • “Disconnect b/w intent of #nonprofit sector & practice real, esp around racial and gender diversity.” Cheryl Dorsey @echoinggreen #nplead
  • “Because we have under-invested in nonprofit talent we are not benefiting from top talent.” Melody Barnes #NPLead
  • “How do we convince the public that human service infrastructure is worth investing in for our long-term sustainability?” Spriggs #NPLead
  • “We need to add human capital when talking ab jobs infrastructure. Its more than physical capital, we need training & skills.” Spriggs #NPLead

In NPQ’s real-time monitoring, we found other, similar postings:

  • “It’s up to you to make management training a critical priority in the nonprofit sector.” Schick of AmEx talks import of development #NPLead
  • “There is no clear pathway into nonprofit jobs. It’s not professionalized like other industries.” Stark @AECFNews #NPLead
  • “Having passion and desire is not enough. [Nonprofit leaders] have to know how to run a business and compete for talent.” @AECFNewsStark #NPLead
  • “Yes. This.” RT @PaulSchmitz1: Melody Barnes: nonprofits vital to economy 779B GDP impact and 13 m jobs #Nplead
  • “Every discussion I am in on NP leadership development comes down to investing in capacity building INVEST ALREADY NP SECTOR!” #NPLead
  • “A leader can’t just be in a leadership space, they must fully occupy that space.” (Overheard in diversity breakout group.) #NPLead
  • “We need a strategy for off ramping ‘fading,’ ‘sunset’ and ‘last generation’ leaders.” @MEnista@BenDuda #NPlead

Carpenter observed that “people are excited and acting like this is new information. I have come to the conclusion it doesn’t matter what is being said in the sector but who is saying it.” Essentially, because people from the White House (Valerie Jarrett, Melody Barnes, the Department of Labor’s Bill Spriggs, etc.) are talking about nonprofit talent and leadership, that will capture the attention of funders and the public. It’s good to have White House people talking about the importance of nonprofit leadership, but what White House action will ensue?—Rick Cohen