Report: U.S. Foundations Underinvest in Nonprofit Leadership Development
(Press release, March 3, 2015) — The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) released "Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership: A (Missed?) Philanthropic Opportunity," part two of the "Smashing Silos in Philanthropy" series. The report tackles the philanthropic sector's chronic underinvestment in leadership development, with less than 1 percent of total grant dollars going toward developing and supporting grassroots leaders, according to data from 2003-2012.
"These leaders are under tremendous stress as they juggle the roles of being visionaries, activists and administrators, not to mention their responsibilities and relationships outside of work," said Niki Jagpal, senior director of research and policy at NCRP, and co-author of the report. "We need to ensure these individuals get the support they need to be successful drivers of today's social change movements."
"Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership" is co-authored by Jagpal and Ryan Schlegel, research and policy associate at NCRP.
In the report, Jagpal and Schlegel provide 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 benefited 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.
Jagpal and Schlegel also share 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, Jagpal and Schlegel offer 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.
"Leaders – at all levels – drive and create change. And for funders, there are fewer, more powerful levers to advance change than investing in leaders. 'Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership' makes a compelling case for foundations to expand the support for leadership development, providing concrete examples of leadership investments that have made a difference, not just for individuals, but for the issues they work on," said James E. Canales, president of the Barr Foundation.