Opening the Way for New Leaders: New Generation of Leaders

  1. Recognize and validate the new generation of leaders. Younger leaders, from their twenties to their forties, often feel “invisible and undervalued by older leaders,” said some grantmakers. Sharing that feeling, a grantmaker in his thirties said: “Do you know how demoralizing it is to sit in a room full of people in their fifties and sixties, talking on and on and on about how there are no new leaders, and they don’t know what’s going to happen when they retire?” Sometimes, he went on, “there’s a perception among older executive directors that their kind of leadership is the only kind of leadership that’s valid. There’s room for lots of different types of leadership in the sector.”

  2. Take steps to develop and retain younger nonprofit staff. A few funders have begun to hold focus groups with nonprofit employees in their thirties to learn about their experiences and how to retain them. Others have created fellowship programs to encourage the growth of new potential leaders. A large private foundation, concerned about building a pipeline for future leaders in a specific field, human rights, created an ongoing fellowship program for emerging practitioners, with a focus on people of color. “While some funders may be reluctant to commit to the money it takes, the mentoring component of this program could be used in lots of settings to attract, keep, and help potential leaders grow.”

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by GrantCraft using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Executive Transitions.

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