Nonprofit Blog

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Study suggests more female leadership needed in nonprofits

Posted by Armanino Nonprofit Team

A recent Harris Poll of 644 women working in the nonprofit sector found 40% of those working at large nonprofits* felt that their organizations did not put as much effort into soliciting donations from affluent women as they did affluent men. The poll also found 58% of these women felt that their organizations would be more effective at raising money, and 59% said their organizations would be more effective at fulfilling their mission, if there were more women on the board of directors.

Debra Mesch, Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University, told the Chronicle of Philanthropy that the poll’s finding are consistent with research she’s conducted. Women “are not considered as major donors or perceived to be the decision makers,” she said. “We certainly see that, in many studies, there are financial gains for organizations when more women are on the board.”

Industry statistics indicate 82% of employees of nonprofit organizations are women while the majority of nonprofits are led by men, both as CEOs and as board members. Still, 57% of female employees aspire to top leadership positions. That sentiment is highest (72%) among workers aged 18-34. The number drops to 64% among those 35-44, to 48% among those 45-54 and 30% among those over 55.

The largest impediment to seeking a leadership role is the time commitment, cited by 55%, and stress, cited by 44%.

The survey was undertaken in conjunction with the George H. Heyman Jr. Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising at New York University. For more details, access this info-graphic or visit The Chronicle online now.

* The study, commissioned by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, defined large nonprofits as those with more than $25 million in assets.

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