Boomer Bust: The Impending Nonprofit Crisis

Is your nonprofit prepared for what’s next?


My dad is a Baby Boomer about to retire. And it’s been a long time coming.

He has worked at the same place for nearly three decades. He has seen technology change dramatically since the 1980s, and that has fundamentally changed the way he’s had to learn to do his job.

My dad gained vast knowledge through years of hard-won experience, which has made him the most valuable employee at his company.

Operations chief not sure how much a repair should cost? He asks my dad.

New production manager underestimates how long it takes a team to drive to a location? My dad reminds them to leave early.

Tech intern can’t figure out why the machine won’t work properly? My dad knows a trick.

So I asked him the other day, “What are your coworkers going to do without you there to give them the answers and show them the right way to do things?”

His answer: “I don’t know. I’ve been telling them for years that I should have been training a replacement, but the powers that be wouldn’t listen. They’ll find out soon enough. And by then, it will no longer be my problem to worry about.”

This scenario should send chills down the spines of nonprofit leaders everywhere.

The Boomer Bust

Because my dad is not alone. Each day, 10,000 Baby Boomers — Americans born between 1946 and 1964 — reach retirement age.

“Good for them,” you might say. “I hope they get a chance to work on their golf swing in between naps.”

But wait a second. Who’s going to steer our nonprofits once they’ve retired?

Nearly half of nonprofit CEOs and Executive Directors who responded to a recent nonprofit leadership study hailed from the Baby Boomer demographic.

boomer bust

Courtesy of Concord Leadership Group

According to the study, 63% of nonprofits said “no” when asked “Does your organization have retirement-planning options in place to ensure that leaders can transition out with financial confidence?”

When looking at just the CEO answers, 83% of those at retirement age said their nonprofit didn’t have retirement-planning options in place to help them transition out of their position.

This lack of retirement planning is more evident in small nonprofits.

nonprofit retirement planning

They say that knowing is half the battle. Now that you know, take steps to ensure your nonprofit doesn’t have to face an all-too-preventable leadership crisis.

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