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  • Pat Libby

Has the spooky habit of ghosting seeped into nonprofit business practices?

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

A few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me an article from Fortune magazine entitled About 80% of Millennial Singles Have Been Victims of 'Ghosting.'

In case you’re not familiar with this phenomena, ghosting is the practice of a person disappearing suddenly and completely from the life of another without a word of explanation. Imagine you’ve been dating someone for several weeks, you think everything is going along really nicely and then… dead silence.

The thought gives me shivers. But it’s not all that different from a pattern of business practices I’ve seen with nonprofit professionals lately.

You send someone an email, often with detailed information that they’ve requested, and then days and sometimes weeks go by without a response.


The most egregious form of ghosting takes place in the job search process.

For many years, friends searching for jobs have told me story after story about getting no response to their thoughtfully crafted letters and resumes.

Or worse, of going on a job interview and not receiving any notice afterward.

For that reason, whenever I’m conducting an executive search for a nonprofit, I always make sure that my clients respond to each and every inquiry that crosses their desk.

That includes sending all applicants a short note letting them know that their materials have been received, regardless of whether they are a dog catcher who is applying to be the CEO.*

I also make sure that the candidates who are being considered know where they stand each and every step of the way in the search process. I also provide them with overall timeline for the process and other pertinent information.

It’s not only courteous; that type of professionalism reflects well on the reputation of that nonprofit.

After all, you never know who knows who. The person you could be blowing off might be the daughter of the biggest philanthropist in town!

And, let’s be real here: It only takes a minute or two to send off an email to people who have expressed an interest in working with your organization.

In this day and age when people are constantly on their devices – texting, emailing, and occasionally using their phones to actually speak to people – it seems amazing to me that professionals no longer feel the need to be accountable to others.

So do me a favor. If you see your actions reflected in this blog, please remember that Casper may have been a friendly ghost, but that ghosts aren’t courteous professionals.

*No offense to all of the dog catchers out there. My own dog, Frank, was rescued from the street by one of these heroes which is how he found his way into our home!

Frank the dog!

Pat Libby is a San Diego nonprofit consultant and philanthropy consultant. Her executive search consulting services have been helping organizations find leaders for more than three decades. Find out more about Pat's services here, or contact her today for a free consultation.


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