Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership

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. However, U.S. grantmakers significantly underinvest in leadership development. An analysis of grants from 2003-2012 showed that leadership development funding comprised just 0.9 percent of total dollars granted and 0.8 percent of total grants. By comparison, for-profit businesses routinely invest $129 per employee for leadership development every year, while the civic sector invests only $29 per employee. Interestingly, grantmaking designed to achieve social justice is an exception, with 3.9 percent of total grant dollars going to leadership development. Because leadership development creates new and previously uncultivated relationships, these programs can create fertile ground for grassroots collaboration that builds movements and leads to lasting change.