To enhance the leadership capacities of the executive directors of selected grantee organizations.
The Fund for Leadership Advancement provides flexible and tailored support to executive directors of selected grantee organizations. This support might include executive coaching, visits to peer institutions, attendance at executive seminars or organizational development consulting focused on improving organizational performance. The fund is unusual among leadership-development programs in that it goes beyond one-time training events or conferences. We encourage executive directors to identify more than one kind of support to foster an integrated approach, to enhance the leader’s ability to acquire new skills and knowledge, and to assist the leader in applying new knowledge within the organization.
Since the approach of the Fund for Leadership Advancement was new to Irvine, we chose to conduct an external evaluation of the first three groups of grantees to help us understand how the fund has helped participating executive directors enhance their own leadership and their organization’s capacity. This was a formative evaluation — in other words, it provided early feedback on design and implementation, so that we can identify promising practices, lessons and ways to refine and strengthen this initiative moving forward.
Our goals for the evaluation were to:
2006 – 2009
Since its launch in 2005, the Foundation has awarded a total of $2.7 million in grants to 43 organizations through the Fund for Leadership Advancement. This evaluation focused on 20 leaders whose organizations received grants in 2005 and 2006.
This evaluation drew on qualitative and quantitative data from the Foundation and the grantees. The evaluators reviewed program materials and grantee reports. They also contacted leaders and their colleagues directly through surveys and interviews to gain their assessment of program implementation and outcomes. Finally, the evaluators participated in meetings with the internal Fund for Leadership Advancement team and the organizational development consultant who provides technical assistance to the grantees.
Findings from this evaluation should be of interest to other funders and organizations involved in leadership development, and consultants who support nonprofit organizations and their leaders. What follows is a summary of key findings from this evaluation. A more complete analysis, as well as an overall exploration of the Fund for Leadership Advancement, are available in the publication What Helps Leaders Grow.