Five Nonprofit Leadership Challenges: A Proposed Typology of Common Issues that Nonprofit Leaders Face
Journal of Nonprofit Education & Leadership, 2023 | Vol. 13 Issue 2, p31-58. 28p.
Nonprofit leaders face many challenges and would benefit from a typology that helps highlight the core issues organizations experience. The Nonprofit Studies Minor at North Carolina State University identified five nonprofit leadership challenges, through a combination of practitioner experience and academic research, that could serve as a typology. The challenges identified are earning the public trust; aligning mission, methods, and resources; capitalizing on issues associated with diversity; balancing individual interests and the common good; and moving beyond charity to systemic change.
This research, co-authored by Dr. Richard M. Clerkin (University of North Carolina Wilmington), Dr. Sapna Varkey (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine), and Dr. Jayce Sudweeks, revisits the academic literature to assess whether these challenges encompass the research agenda of nonprofit and voluntary action academic studies. Using qualitative content analysis, we examined abstracts from three major nonprofit journals from 2005-2017. Results indicate that the five leadership challenges were present in the abstracts of all three journals. Chi-squared analysis showed statistically significant differences in the presence of leadership challenges based on journal, location of the study, and unit of analysis.
Both Dr. Clerkin and Dr. Sudweeks have successfully used this typology as a key framework in their undergraduate and graduate courses in nonprofit management. Students have found the typology very helpful in classifying and analyzing the myriad of issues facing nonprofit organizations. It allows students to quickly identify the issue and then begin to understand how to apply concepts taught in the courses to address the issue. Student feedback often includes comments about the power and usefulness of the Five Nonprofit Leadership Challenges.