Improving the world does not happen in the absence of strong, skilled and connected leaders driving the change process. Leadership development, therefore, is an integral component of any work that seeks to address long-standing structural barriers to sustainable change. Leadership development is essential to achieving real results by disrupting usual ways of thinking and builds networks needed to win, prevents burnout, and has a multiplier effect on organizations. However, U.S. grantmakers significantly underinvest in leadership development across the board.
In Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership, National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy (NCRP) discusses leadership development as a tool to create transformational change. It profiles leaders and the organizations that provide them with the tools necessary to be successful. It emphasizes the relational and inclusive nature of this work and provides examples of the kinds of changes that can be realized by funding grantees and organizations that work in this space. It provides ways to address perceived challenges to funding leadership development, including the misconception that investments in this work cannot be measured and lays out five concrete ways for grantmakers to boost support for leadership development.
NCRP argues there is a great need for more funding for leadership development in our sector. Grantmakers have an opportunity to address this at all levels, including organizations working for social justice at the grassroots level, groups that provide them with support to develop their leadership skills and national leadership programs that provide sustainable tools to keep the sector healthy.
Note: This report is part two of NCRP's “Smashing Silos” series. Part 1, titled Smashing Silos: Multi-Issue Advocacy and Organizing for Real Results, challenges the tendency to focus on narrow issue silos and provides practical tips for funding cross-issue grassroots organizations. Access the full series here.