Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership: A (Missed?) Philanthropic Opportunity

Publication date: 
March, 2015

With the complex challenges our nation faces, the need for grassroots leadership is urgent, and there's a lot at stake. Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership: A (Missed?) Philanthropic Opportunity looks at how supporting grassroots nonprofit leaders can smash silos, create unforeseen alliances, and boost the impact of the nonprofit sector.

The report provides critical information about the state of leadership development in the nonprofit sector, explaining its importance while assessing current rates of foundation grantmaking. The report profiles leaders who have benefitted from leadership development training, analyzes leadership development programs that are leading social justice movements and identifies ways that funding for this strategy directly helps foundations achieve their goals.

Findings from an analysis of Foundation Center data between 2003 and 2012, which include:

  • Leadership development funding comprised just 0.9 percent of total dollars granted and 0.8 percent of total grants.
  • 3.9 percent of "social justice" grants goes toward leadership development.
  • 54 percent of leadership grants qualified as social justice grants.

Finally, the report addresses misperceptions that often keep foundations from funding leadership development programs. For foundations that wish to effectively support these activities, the report offers the following recommendations:

  • Increase or begin support right away.
  • Integrate leadership development with program strategy.
  • Engage grantees as true partners.
  • Use a culturally inclusive approach.
  • Build organizational capacity that supports leadership development.
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