Creating Change in Utah’s Social Sector

Ever heard of a nonprofit paying another nonprofit not to work?

The Community Foundation of Utah (CFU) believes investing in nonprofit leaders uplifts the work of their entire organization. The Invest In Success Initiative is a short-term sabbatical program for talented executives working in the public sector. CFU created the initiative to make sector wide impact by helping nonprofit executives rest, recuperate, and revitalize.

To best understand the needs of our community, CFU created an analysis of Utah’s nonprofits through a human capital needs survey.

The majority of respondents said retention and development of staff with strong leadership potential was an issue for their organization. They identified a need for accessible leadership training, time away from the operations of their organization, and tools to build their network. The top challenges to retaining talent were reported as burnout and insufficient compensation.

With matching funds from Morgan Stanley Bank, CFU designed Invest in Success to be a two fold program to respond to these challenges. CFU partnered with Rebecca Youngerman from RGY Consulting to create a week of learning sessions for nonprofit executive directors with topics ranging from healthy organizational culture development to leadership refinement.

Following the week of training, the participating executives took a week of rest away from their organization’s operations to reconnect with their inspiration and recommit to their mission.

“My intent for the 2022 IIS program was to equip participating leaders with tools and frameworks that position them to navigate this particularly complex time," said Youngerman. "This year especially, I witnessed the power of the cohort supporting and challenging one another. It's been an honor to learn with and from the participants and the CFU team.” 

CFU recognized that monetary obligations were a significant barrier for executives who wanted to participate in this program. To address this need, Invest in Success granted a stipend to the cohort of executives to allow them the time to pursue higher strategic thinking. Their organization's staff who stepped into the executive’s role during the two week program also received a stipend to encourage them to develop leadership skill sets. 

With a selection of executive applicants, CFU piloted the program in September of 2022. The participants had a wide spectrum of area expertise and came from geographic locations across Utah.

The executives were eager to share their experiences and learn from one another, many of them reflecting that merely being in the room with peers in similar leadership positions was one of the most valuable aspects of the initiative. 

"Invest in Success has been and continues to be one of the most important leadership development opportunities I've ever had the privilege to take part in," said participant Rihana Medina, Executive Director of Moab Valley Multicultural Center. "The words that come to mind when I think of this week are Connected, Rested, Challenged, and most importantly, Inspired."

As Utah’s nonprofit landscape shifts and responds to changing environments, the Community Foundation of Utah continues to develop its offerings for leadership development. CFU looks forward to future Invest in Success initiatives that will create sustainable change and promote charitable collaborations.

With the belief that when we come together we can do even more good, CFU gathers Utah’s stakeholders to create maximized impact.


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