January 4, 2024

In this episode, we offer a critique of a big idea that has led philanthropy and the nonprofit sector astray since 2006, and has negatively impacted our workforce. And I’m going to tell you how Fund the People has been challenging this idea and reframing the issue.

The Bridgespan Group is a major consulting firm serving foundations and nonprofits that was co-founded in 2000 by two Bain and Company executives. In the early days of 2006, Bridgespan caused a huge stir in the sector when they declared that there is a “deficit of leadership in the nonprofit sector.”

Their research suggested that when long-serving Baby Boomer executive directors retired, there would statistically not be enough Generation X to fill their seats. And, they said, with the number of nonprofits growing each year, the number of seats would keep getting bigger as the population to fill them got smaller.

The study was based on deficit thinking. And while it sought to encourage investment in nonprofit executives, it had all kinds of unintended consequences, which I'll talk about in this episode.

This episode is part of our Rusty's Rants and Reflections series. The series offers Rusty's provocative reflections and ideas about investing in the nonprofit workforce. 


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