Leading for Impact

Strengthening Leadership Teams

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Fontaine Huey, Executive Director, CVIFor more than 50 years, the Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI) in Atlanta has empowered people impacted by vision loss to live with independence and dignity.

Like most nonprofit directors, CVI's Executive Director, Fontaine Huey, faced tough decisions about the future growth of the organization, balancing ambitious goals for impact against constraints on time and resources. With the help of Bridgespan's Leading for Impact® program—a two-year consulting experience that focuses on building the strategic skills of nonprofit executive teams to improve their organization's performance—CVI launched a comprehensive strategic planning process. Huey, just a year into her new position, credited the Leading for Impact® program with providing a framework and tools for a staff-led planning process that allowed them to reassess their impact objectives.

2 year Leading for Impact timeline

Ambitious nonprofits need smart and skilled talent to succeed, yet often there is little support to grow the team alongside the strategy. Leading for Impact® was created to fill that gap. Drawing on 15 years of deep consulting work with a wide range of nonprofits and dozens of our publications, insights and tools developed about leadership, Bridgespan created a two-year program that supports motivated leadership teams in both developing their strategies and growing their skills. Part consulting with team-led projects and part strategic concept training, this new model brings together 8-10 local nonprofit executive teams over a two-year period to work on their own strategic projects (strategic clarity, organization effectiveness, funding models or leadership development) with coaching and advisory support from Bridgespan. During the two-year period, teams are also engaged in leadership and skills training that is applied throughout the projects.

"The benefit that has meant the most to me personally has been the building of our management team ... It has elevated the level of our dialogue at our management team five to ten fold."
Phil Kilbridge, former CEO, Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco

Phil Kilbridge, former CEO, Habitat for Humanity Greater San FranciscoCommitted to building capacity locally, Leading for Impact® includes a segment that trains local nonprofit consultants so that even after the two-year program ends, there will be trained local professionals to assist future leaders. Born from relentless experimentation to find ways to serve and support more management teams, after three test city pilots sponsored by the generosity of the Omidyar Network, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Deerbrook Charitable Trust, Bridgespan launched Leading for Impact® in Atlanta in 2014 in collaboration with the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. Ultimately, 40 organizations in Atlanta will participate thanks to the generosity of several significant local funders. Plans are underway for Leading for Impact® cohorts in Washington, DC and Seattle in late 2015, and other cities will be added in 2016.

Leading for Impact® offers an unprecedented opportunity for local philanthropies to pool their funds to help their local high-potential organizations achieve greater impact.

"If you raise the game for fifty top organizations in a single city, you raise the game for the entire city."
Preeta Nayak, Partner, The Bridgespan Group

Kirk Kramer, Partner, The Bridgespan GroupDesigned for nonprofit organizations with annual operating budgets of $3 million to $30 million, the initiative introduces executive teams to the knowledge, learning, and tools Bridgespan has developed in its work advising hundreds of nonprofit clients. Investing in the executive team of each organization elevates the performance not only of the participating organizations, but also of the other local nonprofits they influence.

Leading for Impact® is now fully established in Atlanta and is rapidly scaling. As Bridgespan continues to work with innovative clients, the learnings, tools and frameworks will continue to be shared with the Leading for Impact® community. Improving the performance of organizations has always been central to Bridgespan's mission. With Leading for Impact® expanding to new locales, the impact can now be rippled through on a local level.

"Our Leading for Impact® program is unique in that it is designed for nonprofit CEOs and their executive teams to learn together and to align in how they think and act. Achieving this enables the team to drive continuous performance improvement over time."
Kirk Kramer, Partner, The Bridgespan Group