Helping nonprofit leaders and their organizations succeed

Strengthening leadership is a key grantmaking priority for the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. We believe that organizations and movements need strong and capable leaders at all levels in order to achieve their goals for social change.

Why This Work is Important

Effective leadership is essential to the success of social change organizations and movements, whether they are working to advance immigrant rights, achieve marriage equality or reduce the achievement gap in education. In contrast to the business world, however, the social change sector still invests very little in figuring out what works to develop and support effective leaders.

What We're Doing

The Haas, Jr. Fund launched the Haas Leadership Initiative in 2005. The goal of the initiative is to support leaders so they can more effectively advance the goals of their organizations and the movements in which they work. Over the last several years, the Haas, Jr. Fund has become a major funder of leadership development. Through the end of 2012, the Fund made grants totaling $21.6 million in this program area.

How We'll Get There

The Haas Leadership Initiative includes the following core elements: The Flexible Leadership Awards, Fellowships and Advancing the Practice of Nonprofit Leadership Development.

The Flexible Leadership Awards. The Fund’s Flexible Leadership Awards (FLA) program has provided substantial leadership development support to more than 50 key social justice grantees. Organizations participating in the program are playing a critical role in advancing rights and creating opportunities in the Fund’s priority areas of immigrant rights, gay and lesbian equality, and education equity. 

The FLA program engages executive directors, senior staff and board members of selected organizations to think expansively about where their organizations want to go, what kind of leadership they need to get there, and how to make sure that staff and board leaders have the skills and the support that will help them succeed.
Activities supported by the Fund’s FLA investments — including executive coaching, board development, and training for executives and senior teams — have led to clear gains in effectiveness and impact for these organizations. All participating organizations also receive general operating support from the Haas, Jr. Fund to sustain and grow their core programs and operations.

Fellowships. In addition to providing targeted leadership support to core grantees, the Haas, Jr. Fund is committed to addressing the leadership needs of the movements that are the focus of our work. To date, the Haas, Jr. Fund has established two signature fellowships that address critical leadership challenges in the immigrant and gay and lesbian rights movements:

Advancing the Practice of Nonprofit Leadership Development. The Haas, Jr. Fund is committed to exploring new approaches to strengthening leadership in the fields and movements in which we work. In addition to supporting the ability of our grantees to develop the leadership they need to succeed, our goal is to advance the field of leadership development in the social change sector so that organizations and their funders know what it takes to develop strong leaders at all levels. The Fund’s FLA program work has created a “learning lab” for sharing lessons with philanthropy and the sector in areas from effective coaching to supporting nonprofits at times of executive transition.