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Why Leadership matters The case for investing in the sector’s talent

The nonprofit sector is fundamental to every American’s quality of life.

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Every day, 1.5 million social impact organizations work tirelessly to create a better future for all of us. Those organizations – and their 12 million employees along with untold millions of volunteers – strive to meet our society’s need for education, healthcare, job training, daycare, safe neighborhoods, healthy families, better nutrition, ethical government, corporate responsibility, clean environments, and spiritual and emotional inspiration. In a word, our need for community.

Twelve million workers make the nonprofit sector the nation’s second largest employer, just behind retail.

As a service industry, the sector’s most valuable resource is human capital.

Critical to a nonprofit’s ability to do more good, the need for talented and resilient leadership is acute: In 2018, a study of tax filings of 219,000 organizations found that half of U.S. nonprofits are at-risk financially – facing inadequate cash reserves, negative income margins and technical insolvency.

The nonprofit sector requires, as its first prerequisite, highly adept and passionate leaders.

A recent study from Bridgespan (Nonprofit Sector Leadership Pipelines, 2015) shows a low rate of internal promotion within nonprofits, indicating a lack of staff development. Nearly half of the nonprofit leaders surveyed rated their staff development as “weak,” with 50 percent stating that they aren’t able to retain employees due to insufficient career development opportunities.

Studies show that Succession planning is the No. 1 organizational concern of U.S. nonprofits, but they are failing to develop their most promising pool of talent: homegrown leaders.

“When I think about ‘impact philanthropy,’ it is not scale and entrepreneurship that come to mind – it is investment in the sector’s leadership capacity. There is a multiplier effect that permeates well beyond the individual leader ... entire organizations and communities are elevated.”

Debbie Espinosa, CNP, President & CEO, FIND Food Bank

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Due to an inability to focus energy or resources on talent development and recruitment, the nonprofit sector faces not only leadership shortages, but high rates of burnout and turnover.

Today’s nonprofit leaders are aging and retiring, and younger generations have not taken their place. The Bridgespan Group projects that the nonprofit sector will need to replace the equivalent of every C-suite position over the next eight years.

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Solving the leadership gap is pivotal to nonprofits’ sustainability.

If we are to solve this leadership deficit, the nonprofit sector must depart from the more costly traditional methods of developing and retaining talent. We must leverage the power of technology.

Introducing A New Approach to Developing Leaders...

Innovating upon seven decades of success, the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance has designed a 21st Century solution to nonprofit leadership development: Leaderosity.

A full-service online learning platform, Leaderosity offers nonprofit-tailored content and vetted technologies that allow social impact organizations of all sizes to:

  • Achieve exceptional learning outcomes with simplicity and at low cost.
  • Replace expensive in-house training programs that were never the organization’s core competency.
  • Foster a learning culture that enhances leadership, strengthens teams, increases retention.
  • Free up resources to pursue core mission objectives.

Leaderosity represents an exciting and distinctive approach to attracting and advancing nonprofit leaders. Early adopters hail Leaderosity as a unique and winning formula – one that can become a sector-wide solution.

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Leaderosity melds the Alliance’s decades of sound pedagogical experience with emerging best practices for online learning: specific learning outcomes, instructor access, cohort interactivity, and rigorous and immediate evaluation.

By providing nonprofits with leadership development experiences on par with the corporate sector, Leaderosity will revolutionize the nonprofit sector’s approach to its greatest challenge: retaining and developing talent.

The return on investment has never been greater.

We must move forward now to ensure nonprofits can gain the leadership edge needed to meet their acute sustainability challenges. Philanthropic investment is essential so the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance can…

…Secure the necessary instructional technology and licensing for a fully developed online platform…

…Expand the Alliance’s own workforce – staff who will build awareness, serve the needs of learners, manage partner relationships, design customized instruction, assemble a critical mass of training modules, and more...

…Enact our vision for Leaderosity, including online peer-to-peer mentoring and career services that connect job-seekers and decision-makers...

Following a jumpstart from philanthropy, the Alliance’s expanded programs will become self-sustaining through partnership revenues and training fees. The result will catapult the Alliance’s reach, capability and impact to an unprecedented level.

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“Much of my success – and the changes I have made in this world – can be attributed to investments made in me as a leader. I am better equipped to lead change. My organization is stronger, and better able to serve the community. There is no questioning that.”

Terence Narcisse, MBA, CNP, Executive Director at East Harris County Empowerment Council

Your generous support of Leaderosity will create a brighter future for the nonprofit sector – and the nation.

Join us.