Scanning the Horizons Project: Generational Perspectives on the Future of Nonprofits

After being surveyed and interviewed, three generations reveal their visions of current and future issues challenging the nonprofit field. It may just surprise you how this broad spectrum of nonprofit professionals agree and disagree on such issues as communication of mission, the next big game changers, succession planning, and more.

A group of current and future Generation X & Y nonprofit leaders held a summit in Chicago to discuss these findings and to generate ideas on how to overcome the challenges discovered in the research.

The information in the project summary reports, along with the accompanying graphics, resource lists, and PowerPoint presentation, can all be used as discussion starters to bring people together to focus on issues that - while not new to the sector - can be processed through the lens of generational perspectives.

Key Conversations: Leading in a Multigenerational Workforce
A report informed by the project Scanning the Horizons: Generational Perspectives on the Future of Nonprofits (January 2014)
As demographics of the workforce change, there is a growing buzz about how generational differences will shape the future. With the recognition that Generation Y constitutes the largest age group since the Baby Boomers and that Generation X threatens to get lost in the fold, there is an imperative that we in the nonprofit sector understand how emerging generations will take on nonprofit leadership issues and governance. This report taps into the thoughts and attitudes of these new and emerging leaders, but also individuals long committed to the nonprofit sector. It gauges the climate of the workforce, grouped by generational classifications.

Trend Survey RClick on report cover to download the Survey reportesults and Executive Summary (October 2013) 
Do Generation X & Y professionals want to lead nonprofits, and what skills do they believe are crucial for leadership?  What barriers do they see as impacting the future of nonprofits, and what are the next big game changers? Discuss these survey results with your co-workers to see if they agree with our findings.

Interview Results (October 2013)
Discover what the generational solutions are for a variety of nonprofit challenges, including funding, employee retention and development, and the reputation of the nonprofit sector. Unique perspectives are also shared on how nonprofit organizations can help workers cope with work-life balance.


Summit Results (October 2013)
Some interesting discussions were captured for this report during the Generations X & Y summit. The group expressed a need for intentional leadership development and put forth a number of ways to increase these opportunities. This report is a great place to start a discussion within your organization when it comes to nonprofit management.

Summit Graphic
On March 5, 2013, a summit was held in Chicago, where 22 professionals belonging to either Generation X or Y, and affiliated with the nonprofit sector, gathered to dig deeper into the findings of the survey and interview results. This graphic captures the discussions that took place during the summit.

 Scanning the Horizons: Generational Perspectives on Nonprofits

Presentation from the "Views from the Top" Conference at the University of Notre Dame on Nov. 13, 2013.

Graphic recorder Sue Keely created these images based on conversations and information provided by the Scanning the Horizons project team. They visually summarize the information gathered in the survey and interview phases of the project. They are great aids for conversation starters.

Confessions of Baby Boomer Nonprofit Leaders
This graphic illustrates some surprising thoughts and perspectives shared by Baby Boomer leaders who participated in the survey and interview process.

Game Changers and Threats
The top game-changers and threats to the nonprofit sector identified in the survey are emphasized in this graphic.

Generational Differences
This graphic reflects the perceived and actual differences of the three distinct generations working within nonprofits.

Project resource list

For additional statistics or resources, contact the Alliance Severson Center.

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