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119 posts categorized "Leadership"

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (February 2014)

March 01, 2014

Tragedy in Syria. Civil strife in Ukraine and Venezuela. Not enough snow in Sochi and more than enough pretty much everywhere else. The Fab Four at fifty and other reminders of boomer mortality. Here at PND, February 2014 was best summed up by a colleague who dubbed it "the longest short month ever." It was also the busiest month ever for PhilanTopic, as readers flocked to Laura Callanan's four-part series on social sector leadership and found lots of other things to like as well. Here, then, are the six or seven most popular posts on PhilanTopic for the month that just wouldn't end....

What did you read/watch/listen to in February that made you think, surprised you, or caused you to scratch your head? Share your finds in the comments section....

We’ve Seen the Future and It Is…Collaborative!

February 25, 2014

(The following post is the final in a series of four written by Laura Callanan, a senior fellow at the Foundation Center. Laura wishes to acknowledge colleagues who have contributed to this work. For more on the scope of the survey referenced in this post, click here.)

On the surface, a leader is a leader is a leader. Leaders need to innovate, mentor, use data, and be responsible with the checkbook. But beyond those basic capabilities, are there differences?

My colleagues and I set out to define the capabilities a social sector leader needs to be successful. We conducted interviews, surveyed two hundred social sector leaders, and reviewed ten years of literature on social sector leadership. Based on that research, here is the framework we developed:

LC_Presentation2

We suggest a social sector leader needs all six of these dimensions to be well-rounded and successful. At first look, it might seem like these are the same capabilities any leader needs. But the difference is in the details.

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Are Social Sector Leaders Walking the Talk?

February 19, 2014

(The following post is the third in a series of four written by Laura Callanan, a senior fellow at the Foundation Center. Laura wishes to acknowledge colleagues who have contributed to this work. For more on the survey, click here.)

Social sector thought leaders such as Lucy Bernholz, Paul Bloom, Bill Drayton, and the late Greg Dees have all weighed in on how ecosystem-level cooperation is the only way to scale and sustain solutions to problems too daunting for any one organization to tackle alone. As Dees and Bloom wrote in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the first step for social entrepreneurs – and other social sector leaders – is to understand their environment:

Social entrepreneurs get help from some individuals and organizations, give help to others, fend off threats from others, and compete with still others. Social entrepreneurs must identify all of the relevant players and the roles that they play.…To create significant and long-lasting changes, social entrepreneurs must understand and often alter the social system that creates and sustains the problems in the first place. This social system includes all of the actors – the friends, foes, competitors, and even the innocent bystanders – party to the problem, as well as the larger environment – the laws, policies, social norms, demographic trends, and cultural institutions – within which the actors play....

In recent years, many funders and nonprofits – reinforced by colleagues in government and some corners of the private sector – have emphasized the importance of ecosystem-level efforts to address social problems. It all started with a few discrete cross-sector partnerships among businesses, government, and nonprofits. It evolved into a nuanced discussion of how social impact assessment must look at organizations' contributions to solving a problem, rather than attempt to attribute credit to individual actors within a like-minded group of organizations working in concert. It has led to innovative financing options such as social impact bonds, in which government, impact investors, and nonprofit service providers share risk, and rewards, in order to scale proven social welfare interventions. FSG even coined a term, "collective impact," to describe the approach.

My colleagues and I wondered whether the rhetoric around collaboration, cooperation, and ecosystem-level change was in fact the reality in the social sector. So, through a survey, we asked leaders in the sector how they are working today, and what attributes they thought would be most important for successful leaders in the future. The answers we found were mixed.

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What Do Social Sector Leaders Want?

February 14, 2014

(The following post is the second in a series of four written by Laura Callanan, a senior fellow at the Foundation Center. Laura wishes to acknowledge colleagues who have contributed to this work. For more on the scope of the survey referenced in this post, click here.)

You're probably not surprised to hear that most social sector leaders have a wish list. But you might be surprised by what's at the top. More time to experiment and explore new ideas.

Management guru Jim Collins calls it "white space," the 50 percent of his time he keeps unscheduled for reading, thinking, and writing. Collins tells every manager he works with that they need to make this type of time for themselves if they hope to be creative – and effective.

In 2013, I asked 196 CEOs and other top managers at foundations, social investment funds, nonprofits, and social enterprises what attributes they need most in order to succeed in the coming years – and what kinds of resources would help them get there. Fully half the respondents said they needed more time to experiment and innovate, as well as sabbatical time to rejuvenate, gain exposure to new ideas, and broaden their horizons.

In addition to more time to think, respondents indicated a desire to grow their networks, get some coaching, and build their communications skills. Social sector leaders want time to discuss what's happening with colleagues, understand it with the help of mentors, and share lessons with others – as well as the time to process what it all means and plan how to act on it.

As documented in Creative Disruptions: Sabbaticals for Capacity Building and Learning, a 2009 report from Third Sector New England and CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, sabbatical time is one of the more valuable investments a nonprofit and its funders can make when it comes to organizational capacity and effectiveness.

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Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (January 2014)

February 01, 2014

Yes, it's been cold, but look on the bright side: There are only twenty-eight days in February. While you're waiting for warmer temps to arrive, why not pour yourself a cup of something warm and join us as we revisit the most popular posts here on PhilanTopic in January:

What have you been reading/watching/listening to? Feel free to share your favorites in the comments section below....

5 Questions for...Sterling Speirn, President, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

January 03, 2014

Breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg established the foundation that bears his name in 1930. Known as the W.K. Kellogg Child Welfare Foundation in its original incarnation, the foundation spent its first decade working mainly in and around its hometown of Battle Creek, Michigan, with a focus on improving the health of children in the region. Over the decades, the foundation's interests grew in line with its assets; by its seventy-fifth anniversary in 2005, those assets totaled some $6 billion, putting the foundation among the largest private philanthropic organizations in the world, even as a focus on children remained a mainstay of its grantmaking portfolio.

Widely viewed as one of the more effective private philanthropies in the U.S., the foundation benefited over the years from steady leadership provided by a handful of thoughtful, dedicated chief executives. After stints as a middle school English teacher, a lawyer, and president/CEO of the Peninsula Community Foundation (1992-2005), Sterling Speirn became the eighth person to lead the foundation in January 2006.

PND chatted with Speirn in December as he was celebrating the launch of a new community leadership initiative and getting ready to step down as president/CEO after nearly eight years. His successor, La June Montgomery Tabron, is a twenty-five year veteran of the foundation and the first woman and African American to serve in that position.

Headshot_sterling_speirnPhilanthropy News Digest: The announcement of your community leadership initiative describes it as Kellogg's return to leadership development. When did Kellogg exit that space? And how does the new initiative differ from the foundation's previous efforts in the leadership development area?

Sterling Speirn: Well, we never really exited leadership development. We've had a variety of programs over the years -- the one we're probably best known for was the Kellogg National Leadership Program, which ran for fifteen, sixteen years, from the 1980s to the 1990s. But since then we've funded leadership programs in the health professions and in food policy work, and we've done leadership work in terms of endowed professorships and sustainable agriculture. We're always just sort of coming back into the space in different ways.

How this is different from previous Kellogg leadership development initiatives is that it's place- as well as category-focused. The overarching framework for the initiative is vulnerable children, but we have four geographic areas of focus -- New Mexico, Mississippi, Michigan and New Orleans, with one national cohort of racial equity fellows. So, it's both place-based and, programmatically speaking, focused on kids and our existing racial equity work.

PND: The initiative seems to be built around a bottom-up as opposed to top-down approach. Is that an accurate characterization?

SS: I don't know if I'd say top-down or bottom-up. It's sort of inside-out, in that it involves a healthy cross-section of leaders, young and emerging as well as older. It's probably more accurate to say it's a diverse approach to identifying and developing leaders. And, again, because it's place-focused, we expect to end up with cohorts comprised of fellows from very different domains -- education, health, family economic security, and so on. It's different, too, because we plan to emphasize not just individual leadership work, but the connective work that unites each cohort of fellows, with the goal of developing not just individual leaders but networks of leaders.

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Newsmakers: Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation

December 18, 2013

Headshot_darren_walkerIn September, Darren Walker became the tenth president of the Ford Foundation. Before coming to Ford, where he was vice president of the foundation's Education, Creativity, and Freedom of Expression program, Walker served as vice president for foundation initiatives at the Rockefeller Foundation and as chief operating officer of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, where he guided the organization's efforts to develop housing for low and moderate-income families in Harlem.

Recently, Michael Seltzer, a frequent contributor to PhilanTopic, spoke with Walker about the current social change environment, the influence of the foundation's activities on his life, and his hopes for the foundation going forward. Seltzer is a distinguished lecturer at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs and an affiliated faculty member of its Center for Nonprofit Strategy & Management.

Philanthropy News Digest: What is it like to be president of the Ford Foundation?

Darren Walker: Although I've been at the foundation for more than three years, in many ways I still have a lot to learn. I certainly didn't arrive here with any idea I would end up as president. When I walked through the doors of this institution for the first time, it was a transformational experience, because the Ford Foundation represents the ways in which my own life has been changed by philanthropy.

I'm a graduate of public schools. I attended public school in a small town in Texas, and I am also a graduate of the first Head Start cohort, a program that was developed out of Ford Foundation-supported research on early child development at Yale University. After high school, I attended a large land grant university -- thanks to Pell grants, another Ford Foundation-supported intervention -- so I know all about Ford's commitment to public education in this country.

After college, I worked on Wall Street and one day found myself at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, which was hosting a representative of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a creation of -- you guessed it -- the Ford Foundation. LISC had awarded a grant to the Abyssinian Development Corporation for capacity-building initiatives that would allow it to realize the aspirations of the organization's founders, who had a dream in the mid-'80s that Harlem could be a community that could regenerate itself from within. And the Ford Foundation, through LISC, believed in that dream and invested in it. And that capacity-building grant made it possible for ADC to hire me. So my journey, like the journeys of so many others, has been deeply influenced by the Ford Foundation.

I was thrilled to receive a call from the foundation's board chair, Irene Hirano-Inouye, and have her tell me that the board had voted to appoint me president. Actually, I wasn't sure how to respond, beyond saying, "Yes!" because I know that with this job comes huge responsibility, and that I stand on the shoulders of some extraordinary people.

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[Infographic] Executive Director Listening Project

November 02, 2013

In 2013, the D.C.-based Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation surveyed nearly one hundred executive directors of organizations it supports about the challenges that affect their personal and professional effectiveness. Some of what the foundation learned is illustrated in the handsome infographic below:

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Weekend Link Roundup (June 15-16, 2013)

June 16, 2013

Fathers-day-2013Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Civic Engagement

Guest blogging at Beth's Kanter's blog, Kate Wing, a program officer at the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, shares some of the exciting new developments in the civic engagement space she heard about at the 2013 Personal Democracy Forum conference.

Corporate Philanthropy

"Stop bending over backwards for corporate partners," Denise Lillya, a senior research at the Directory for Social Change in the UK, tells nonprofits. "[C]ompanies usually want to hear what they're going to get out of any giving; they are receptive to arguments that it is a saving, an opportunity, an investment," Lillya writes, but "it's clear that too many companies continue to regard philanthropy as a means by which they can benefit -- ironic as that is."

Data

Christian Villum, community manager for Open Government Data at the Open Knowledge Foundation, announces the Global Open Data Initiative, a joint effort of the foundation, the Open Institute, Fundar, the Sunlight Foundation, the World Wide Web Foundation, and Open Knowledge to share principles and resources with governments and other stakeholders on how to harness opportunities created by opening government data.

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Weekend Link Roundup (June 8-9, 2013)

June 09, 2013

RNadal_2013FrenchOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Collaboration

"The idea behind nonprofit mergers isn't cost savings -- in a high-touch world like ours, there is only so much excess you might be able to trim in a merger," writes Boston Foundation president/CEO Paul Grogan in PhilanTopic. "Rather, it's all about service. Organizations that merge and/or collaborate build capacity to do more of what they do best, and do it even better...."

Communications/Marketing

On the Knight Foundation blog, Elizabeth Miller highlights conversations from the 2013 Grantmakers for Effective Organizations conference about how funders can better communicate what they learn:

Prioritize the audience. Know specifically whom you're trying to reach with your findings so that what you're learning is shared in the right circles.

Market determines method. Understanding who will benefit from these insights may determine the best way to deliver them. Different platforms or social media outlets may be your "friends" in distinct cases.

Enlist the evaluated. Work with grantees to help disseminate the findings.

Reflect and refine. Take time to measure the success of your efforts. Measurement is as important as the planning process in terms of understanding what works. Use specific analytics to determine whether dissemination methods were effective, whether you targeted the right audiences, and how you could improve on the overall strategy next time.

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Weekend Link Roundup (June 1-2, 2013)

June 02, 2013

Summer_funOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications/Marketing

Guest blogging on the Inside Philanthropy blog, Katherine McLane, vice president for communications and external affairs at the Livestrong Foundation, explains how the organization plans to move on from the doping scandal involving its founder, international cycling star and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. "None of us anticipated the rapid and radical changes that are now the new normal," writes McLane. "But we're dusting ourselves off and keeping the focus where it should be: helping people with cancer...."

Community Improvement/Development

The folks at the Philanthropy Potluck blog give a shoutout to MCF member the Bush Foundation, which has launched two new grant programs designed to "enable, inspire, and reward community innovation" in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the twenty-three Native nations that share the same geography.

Fundraising

On the Chronicle of Philanthropy blog, Carol Weisman, an international consultant who specializes in fundraising, governance, and volunteerism, shares some advice about "what to do when donors say 'no' or 'I'm not sure'."

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Weekend Link Roundup (May 11-12, 2013)

May 12, 2013

Poster_mothers-rightOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications/Marketing

On the Philanthropy Potluck blog, Megan Sullivan shares a list of tools for resource-constrained nonprofit communications officers.

Fundraising

Frustrated by your organization's inability to turn its good work into consistent, sustainable donor support? Hop over to the Fired-Up Fundraising blog, where fundraising consultant Gail Perry shares a very good list of the ten things you need to understand about how fundraising really works. Recommended.

Impact/Effectiveness

On the Markets for Good blog, Laura Quinn, executive director of Idealware, argues that as much as funders and others value the idea of more and better performance data from nonprofits, most nonprofits do not have the resources to provide high-quality data about their own effectiveness. How do we get them to a point where that’s possible? asks Quinn.

It would take more than just a little training or a second look at their priorities. They'd need sizable investments in a number of areas. They'd need help with technology, and to understand how to best make use of data and metrics on a limited budget. They'd need a rationalized set of metrics and indicators that they're expected to report on, standardized as much as possible per sector with a standard way to provide them to those who need them.

Funders need to understand what is and isn't feasible, and to redirect the focus of their desire for community impact evaluations from small nonprofits to the university and research world so the nonprofits they support can be unencumbered to work toward a better world....

Building out the "information infrastructure" of the social sector, as Markets for Good and its supporters (the Gates and Hewlett foundations prominent among them) propose to do, is an admirable idea, writes Bridgespan's Daniel Stid on the Markets for Good blog. But "if we build it," he asks, "will the putative buyers and sellers in the envisioned marketplace -- the philanthropists and nonprofits spending and soliciting money within it -- use it as planned?... [W]ill better information change their behavior?" What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Weekend Link Roundup (March 2-3, 2013)

March 03, 2013

Budget-battleOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

African Americans

Washington Post reporter Vanessa Small recaps a recent networking and panel discussion devoted to "young black philanthropy" hosted by boutique marketing firm Friends of Ebonie at National Council of Negro Women headquarters in Washington, D.C. "At one point, the conversation turned to whether wealthy African Americans are doing enough to give back," writes Small, "and by the end of the night, a consensus developed that all African Americans need to do more to hold one another accountable for how they give their time and money."

On one of the last days of Black History Month, a post on the Case Foundation blog celebrated the charity of African Americans:

Giving back and helping others is the fundamental premise of philanthropy and this premise has been a central tenet of African American culture. The distinguished researcher Mary Winters notes in her study on Endowment Building in the African American Community that perhaps out of survival, "Black Americans have been compelled to share and give back from the moment they arrived on the shores of this country. When they have money to give, they give; when there was no money to give, a generous heart, a strong back or a keen mind. As a value, 'giving back' is firmly rooted in black history." Research funded by the Kellogg Foundation supports this belief. The report, Cultures of Giving: Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy by and for Communities of Color, shows that African Americans give 25 percent more of their income [annually] than white Americans. These findings go to show just how deep the spirit of giving runs within the black community....

Communications/Marketing

On her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Katya Andresen shares some highlights from a post by Steve Daigneault at M+R Research Labs about what the Obama reelection campaign got right -- and not so right -- in terms of its digital outreach efforts.

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Survey: The State of Social Sector Leadership

February 12, 2013

Change_buttonAnyone in a position of leadership these days understands that organizations have a choice: disrupt or be disrupted. That's as true for nonprofits, foundations, public private partnerships, and social enterprises as it is for profit-seeking businesses.

To better understand how social sector leadership is changing, McKinsey & Company is inviting social sector leaders to participate in an online survey.

Among other things, the management consulting firm is interested in learning more about the attributes of high-performing social sector leaders -- what do they, and the peers they admire, excel in -- and how do they think their job descriptions will change over the next five to ten years. The firm also is interested in learning whether the sector is walking the talk when it comes to collaboration -- are social sector leaders committing their organizations to multi-stakeholder partnerships where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and attribution and credit are shared -- or is their primary focus still on fundraising and media coverage for their organizations.

As Laura Callanan, who leads McKinsey’s Learning for Social Impact (LSI) initiative, notes: "There are a number of key trends affecting the social sector environment today which require successful leaders to have different strengths from what was important in the past. The social sector is a dynamic environment and a lot happens over a ten-year period." We couldn't agree more.

McKinsey will be sharing the results of the survey -- in the context of a broader "landscaping" it has developed on the state of funding, resources, and research on social sector leadership -- with all who participate later in the year.

To take the survey, click here.


[Infographic] Gender and Salary Inequity in the Nonprofit Sector

January 19, 2013

This week's infographic, courtesy of the TCC Group, looks at the troubling disparity in pay for men and women in the nonprofit sector.

Based on an analysis of data from a thousand nonprofits in a combined Core Capacity Assessment Tool (CCAT) and 990 dataset, the infographic shows that women in the sector make .75 for every $1 made by men; that women leaders tend to be more effective than their male counterparts; and that, in order to be paid equally, women have to perform better than men in a range of areas, including problem solving, creating organizational culture, and supporting the professional development of staff.

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