Archive

Archive for the ‘Grantmakers’ Category

Training our Future Leaders—How Philanthropy is Helping

The nonprofit sector is fortunate to be able to attract many smart and idealistic young people into its ranks each year. But how do we make sure they stay and prosper to handle the leadership and governance challenges of the future?

While University and college-based programs have clearly made great strides in preparing young leaders to enter the sector, many potential leaders who come into the sector are faced with learning critical skills on the job. For example, a well-functioning executive director needs to have good instincts and skills in fundraising, financial management, board relations, and staffing. Most leaders have one or two of these strengths, but do not know where they can turn to get support or skills training in the other areas. Some are even reluctant to ask because they know there is little funding in their organization for it, and they also do not want to be perceived as weak.

A few creative examples of how funders are helping to support nonprofit leadership and staff development shows how a little funding can go a long way to creating welcoming learning environments:

• Cohort Learning – American Express Foundation has provided funding for our Trajectory Leadership Group and Robert Wood Johnson’s New Jersey Health Initiatives program supports a CEO Roundtable. In both settings nonprofit CEOs can bring their issues to a larger, objective group, and hone their skills through interaction with peers and other more experienced executive directors.

• Personalized services – Numerous funders in our region have supported the development and refinement of leadership skills through personalized services such as one-on-one executive coaching, or the short- or longer-term use of a consultant to develop a specific professional capacity.

• Workshop “just-in-time” training – Still other funders (for example, PSEG in New Jersey and the New York State Council on the Arts) provide scholarship support to the Support Center so that their grantees can attend one or more of our many in-person workshops. In this option, the grantee has the flexibility of choosing the courses and timing that best fits their needs and schedules.

• Webinars – This format is good for introductions to a topic or for learning discreet concepts. Bank of America has been hosting numerous webinars to benefit the sector. This, of course, provides ultimate flexibility in reaching staff pressed for time. However, it is not a substitute for the networking that can occur in an interactive, in-person environment.

What will fuel future success is when more grantmakers see how even small investments in their grantees’ staff will have long-term benefits to our communities and those who live in them.

What is working for you, and what would you like to see in philanthropy’s investment in our future? E-mail me at dcrocker@supportcenteronline.org or leave a comment.

Advertisements