About NNSC

The Network of Nonprofit Search Consultants (NNSC) is a professional organization comprised of some of the leading nonprofit search consultants in the United States and Canada.

NNSC provides a forum for executive search consultants to discuss best practices in the field of retained search services predominantly for nonprofit organizations and non-governmental organizations.

Our mission is to reflect the goals of the nonprofit organizations we serve and ensure that the best leadership is in place to meet the needs of others. There is a special expertise required to recruit such inspired leadership and NNSC members are continually expanding their knowledge and experience to benefit these organizations.


First organized in September 2002, NNSC emerged due to a growing concern that the niche nonprofit executive search industry had become more complex and sophisticated, but that few resources existed for developing best recruiting practices or for addressing contemporary nonprofit leadership transition issues.

For a variety of reasons both practical (cost, internal promotion opportunities, lack of search firm interest) and cultural (voluntary governance, mission-oriented focus, organizational standards) the emergence of the specialty of nonprofit executive search was slow to expand.

New Era

Today, things are quite different.

  • Nonprofit organizations have become larger and more complex. Thousands of new nonprofit organizations are incorporated each year by individuals joining together to promote common charitable interests. With increasing competition for donor funds, leading and managing these enterprises has become more challenging. With more resources available, nonprofits are now more likely to use outside search counsel to solve leadership transition problems.
  • Nonprofit compensation has reached higher levels. For years, minimum fee structures set by corporate search firms served to exclude most nonprofit organizations as potential clients, except for the largest institutions. Because nonprofits paid executives much less than their corporate counterparts, there was no business reason to do nonprofit recruitment. Over the years, however, nonprofit compensation has increased. Today, more search firms specifically devoted to serving nonprofits exist as compensation has increased.
  • Nonprofit boards have raised the bar of performance standards. Long before the current state of affairs regarding corporate accountability, nonprofit boards were taking a more serious role in exercising their fiduciary responsibilities. Running a nonprofit in “a more business-like manner” became a common objective for many organizations. Attentive board members have translated this into higher standards of performance for their nonprofit leaders. And this has all translated into more careful selection of leadership and more definitive performance criteria.
  • Competition for nonprofit leaders who can truly make a difference has become more intense. The high expectations placed on nonprofit leadership have resulted in organizations becoming more conscientious in their search for new leadership. The older, more passive methods of attracting the best candidates simply do not work. The thinning of the talent pool has cut across every nonprofit sector. As the bar is raised, as board expectations increase and as organizations become more complex, the search for talent becomes more difficult. Thus, the need for experienced search counsel is more apparent.