Attracting the nonprofit sector’s next great leaders


This is a guest post by Rusty Stahl, Executive Director of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP).  It was originally published on April 28, 2012 on the EPIP website.

The EPIP national conference is over, and we’re making our transition into the Council on Foundations conference now. But the buzz and excitement about EPIP’s new Generating Change initiative is just beginning to get started!

During our conference, there were many discussions about the Nonprofit Talent and Leadership Development Pipeline — a key component of the Generating Change initiative and its online tool kit for funders.

Each pipeline component hosted a packed corresponding workshop at the EPIP conference, and opened the door to rich discussions. For example, the session on recruitment asked key questions about what foundations can and should be doing to help nonprofits attract new talent and future leaders into the sector.

Tim Ifill, founder and executive director of Philly Fellows, a summer internship program that places college students in area nonprofits, shared his not-so-distant memories of misperceptions and confusion about the availability and promise of nonprofit careers. Art McDermott, corporate and foundation development officer at The Point Foundation, explained how the internships his organization offers to LGBT students are often eye-opening experiences for young people who might otherwise never understand the power they could have to make social change as leaders in the nonprofit sector.

Recruiting talent into the sector is a worthwhile investment for foundations, said Libby Walsh, program associate at the Philadelphia Foundation, which has funded the work of Philly Fellows. She explained how funding recruitment falls directly in line with the Foundation’s focus on capacity building and organizational effectiveness.

Another example of high-impact investment in recruiting comes from the Cleveland Foundation, highlighted in a case study in the Generating Change online tool kit for funders. The Foundation recruits, screens and places 17 college students (from an applicant pool of approximately 300) in 12-week summer internships at 17 local nonprofit organizations. In addition to providing extra manpower and effectiveness for the nonprofits, the program has also opened the eyes of nearly 200 students over the years to opportunities in nonprofits in the Cleveland area — helping to combat “brain drain” from the area.

These are just a few of the ways that foundations are investing in recruitment of future leaders for the nonprofit sector. Learn more about recruitment and other aspects of nonprofit talent and leadership development on our Generating Change page.


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Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2012.

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