Prof. Norman Silber Comments in Chronicle of Philanthropy Story ‘Worth the Price? Charities think twice about using expensive executive search firms’

Professor Norman I. Silber was quoted in a December 11, 2008 Chronicle of Philanthropy article.

Worth the Price? Charities think twice about using expensive executive search firms.
By Jennifer C. Berkshire
The Chronicle of Philanthropy


Weighing the Costs
For nonprofit groups facing a search for a high-level position, the first question to ask is whether the assistance of a search firm is necessary. Some experts argue that charities are often better served by conducting their own searches than by spending tens of thousands of dollars to retain an outside firm or consultant.
Carol Weisman, a consultant in St. Louis who advises nonprofit organizations on board development and leadership transitions, argues that certain types of charities simply don’t require the assistance of an outside firm.

“If you’re a small local group, this is not something you need to be considering,” she says. Another category that should go it alone: charities in the midst of a leadership transition with an obvious “heir apparent.”

“If you have a solid succession plan, it does not make sense to go with a search firm,” says Ms. Weisman. “You don’t need to put the board through that process, and you certainly don’t need to drag unemployed people through it ‘just to be fair.’ It isn’t fair.”

Norman Silber, a professor of nonprofit law at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, N.Y., argues that charities may find that relying on existing social networks to find candidates not only saves scarce dollars but also can be more efficient.

Says Mr. Silber, “If you take the collective experience of the existing CEO and the board and magnify it by various contacts and people in the field who know something, you can create a pool of talent that probably suits the needs of the organization more efficiently than someone who comes in from the outside and has to establish what the group is all about before it can even start.”

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