Not-for-Profits Woo Veteran Executives

Article excerpt

When IFF began its search for a chief financial officer, it posted the position on its website and online sites geared to not-for-profits. Because those postings didn't yield the right talent, the organization hired an executive search firm.

The headhunter connected the Chicago-based not-for-profit, which focuses on providing loans and real estate consulting to other not-for-profits, with Lloyd Shields, the former CFO at JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s corporate real estate and security group. He found the IFF position to be the perfect fit. It was one of two offers the 60-year-old received during his 19-month-long job search. "I knew this was going to be more of a challenge" than the other one, he says. "That's what I was looking for."

As executives are laid off or choose to leave the corporate world, not-for-profit organizations are taking advantage of a rare opportunity to snap up some of the best talent to be had.

"Nonprofits need to be more aware of bringing in the best possible business skills they can get and afford," says Trinita Logue, founder and president of IFF--formerly known as the Illinois Facilities Fund--the largest community development financial institution exclusively serving not-for-profits in the Midwest. "There are literally thousands of very experienced people who still want to work and still want to make a contribution. They're not ready to stop working. The nonprofit sector can benefit from them."

Shields, who spent 34 years working for JPMorgan Chase and its predecessor companies, was floored when his position was moved to New York from Chicago. He ultimately decided not to relocate. Like many other baby boomers, he knew finding a new job would be a challenge, but he didn't expect it to take so long.

While the 6.9 percent unemployment rate for the 55-plus cohort is lower than the overall national rate of 9.4 percent, the growth in the percentage of older jobless people has been higher than for other age groups, and older people tend to be shut out of the workforce for longer periods.

Like Shields, the graying unemployed may find their best hope lies in not-for-profits. Many leaders of such organizations are starting to reach retirement age. At the same time, some not-for-profits are seeing growth and the need for senior-level executives, says Wayne Luke, partner and head of executive search for the Bridgespan Group, a not-for-profit that works with other not-for-profits and foundations on strategy and philanthropy consulting as well as executive recruitment.

A study by Bridgespan in 2009 projected demand for 24,000 senior managers at not-for-profits that year. Luke can't say if not-for-profits actually hired that many people because many managers delayed their retirement after the economy and financial markets plummeted in 2008. But by late 2009 and early 2010, "there was light at the end of the tunnel" and not-for-profits began hiring again, he says. "When there are tough times, there is only so long you can hunker down." A survey of about 100 not-for-profit executive directors released in January by Bridgespan found that 60 percent said they were looking for new talent in 2011 compared with 31 percent in 2010.

While some not-for-profits are happy to tap the large pool of experienced business leaders who have lost their jobs, other organizations still have reservations. …