Guest post by the Georgetown Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership
Since the start of the pandemic well over two years ago, nonprofit organizations have been providing critical resources and services to many populations when disruptions in other sectors, such as healthcare and government, were at their peak. This increased demand for nonprofit services and programs put more pressure on staff, board members and volunteers, often resulting in burnout and turnover. According to an article in the Nonprofit Quarterly, about 30 percent of nonprofit staff feel burnt out with an additional 20 percent in danger of burning out, totaling a staggering 50 percent of the nonprofit workforce. The impact has been even greater on nonprofit leaders of color, which we saw reflected in the challenges shared by our 2022 cohort participants during the Nonprofit Management Certificate Program.
Through a partnership with LeaderBridge, an initiative of the Crimsonbridge Foundation, the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership was able to support leadership development for nine nonprofit leaders of color in the greater Washington region in 2022. These leaders join 58 local nonprofit leaders that have completed the Certificate Program with LeaderBridge support and more than 150 LeaderBridge alumni that have completed partner programs since 2016. President and CEO of the Crimsonbridge Foundation, Danielle M. Reyes shared that “LeaderBridge seeks to support a nonprofit leadership landscape that’s more representative of our region. Accessible professional development, a peer network, and leader-informed programming are at the heart of LeaderBridge, and CPNL has developed an inclusive program and outreach strategies to support this landscape.”
From nonprofits that focus on urban garden programming to organizations that provide legal and language services to immigrant families, leaders address real time challenges and opportunities facing their communities through a capstone management project as part of the Certificate Program. Dr. Luisa Boyarski, Associate Director of CPNL, notes that in 2022, “many chose to focus their project on redesigning how they engaged and supported their board, staff and volunteers.” Some of the solutions they developed include:
Creating a retreat for nonprofit board members to reconnect and refocus and a structured onboarding process for new board members to learn organizational culture and values early on.
Developing an intentional strategy for retaining diverse talent – by analyzing reasons for staff turnover and developing solutions that help staff feel supported in their leadership growth within the organization.
Strengthening a volunteer program – by improving onboarding and assignment matching to better align the personal motivations and talents of volunteers with the needs of the organization and increasing volunteer satisfaction and retention.
Improving organizational culture and teamwork by learning about each team member’s strengths and preferred communication styles.
As these projects show, nonprofits have had to take a step back and refocus on their people. The National Council of Nonprofits finds that nonprofits have shifted their focus to prioritize the mental health and wellbeing of their employees, a condensed work week, and reforming the staff hiring process—just a few examples of some new employee-centered initiatives.
As we prepare for our next Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Programs in 2023, we continue to redesign how we support nonprofit leaders in the Greater Washington region who identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian, Hispanic, or Latinx. This not only includes scholarship funding that provides an accessible and affordable pathway to pursuing educational leadership development, but also the intentional creation of networking and relationship-building opportunities that provide ongoing support. LeaderBridge alums have the chance to connect and navigate challenges with peer leaders and remain a part of the LeaderBridge Network after completing the program – through network listening sessions, gatherings, and additional leadership development opportunities.
For more information about the LeaderBridge scholarship and opportunities in the Network, please join the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership and the Crimsonbridge Foundation on Thursday, November 10, 2022 at 12:00pm ET for a virtual information session. You can RSVP here.
Georgetown’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership is a partner of LeaderBridge, an initiative of the Crimsonbridge Foundation.