Creative Disruption: Sabbaticals For Capacity Building And Leadership Development

For several years now, a handful of foundations have provided sabbaticals to selected nonprofit leaders. Four of these funders—the Barr Foundation (Boston), The Durfee Foundation (Los Angeles), the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust (Phoenix), and the Rasmuson Foundation (Alaska), along with the Alston/ Bannerman Fellowship Program (national)—joined together to conduct a collective study of the results of their sabbatical programs.

Although all were experiencing good results either anecdotally or through local evaluation findings, they had questions about how they might improve their programs and hoped the answers could be informed by a comparative study. The study’s title, Creative Disruption, is an acknowledgement that although a sabbatical of some months’ duration may be disruptive to the work and life routines of a leader and to management patterns in his or her organization, the evidence demonstrates that this disturbance leads to new perspectives on the part of the leader, the board, and the staff with regard to organizational vision, shared leadership, and skill development.