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  • Writer's pictureLeadership Victoria

Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership - A (Missed?) Philanthropic Opportunity

A fascinating report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy outlines the role that leadership development plays in social change and community health, and how grantmakers can see value from their investments in leadership development programs. Some of the key take-away points for the average community member include:

1. This Quote:

Unless we can figure out what is behind the nonprofit world's chronic underinvestment in leadership and turn things around, we will continue to overlook one of the most important ingredients of positive social change. Investing in leadership doesn't just deliver higher performance; it can also deliver a better, more equitable world." - Ira Hirschfield, President of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

2. Three important ways in which leadership development contributes to achieving real results:

  1. It disrupts usual ways of thinking and builds the networks needed to win. Leadership development goes beyond the individual; it often can lead to collaborative leadership in cooperation or coalition with other leaders who share values or goals.

  2. It prevents burnout. Progressive leadership development understands that self-care frees us to care for, nurture and encourage others.

  3. It has a multiplier effect on organizations. It supports a strong "bench" of secondary or tertiary leaders at grantee organizations and in groups of organizations. It can build the capacity of people who never would have self-identified as leaders before.

3. Leadership development is necessary to effect transformational change in our communities.

The power of leadership is multi-faceted: it nurtures individuals, builds lifelong relationships, fosters collaboration and makes significant contributions to movement-building by providing the space for unforeseen cross-issue work.


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