Nonprofit Excellence

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Making the Case

When nonprofits prioritize effective (staff and board) leadership and governance, they are more likely to provide impactful services, do so efficiently, and serve organizations that will be around for the long-term.

Nonprofit organizations form out of the desire to tackle social issues and bring positive changes to people and communities. They serve as the front lines in meeting the diverse needs within any community, providing resources, services and/or tools in specific areas of need. By their nature, however, most nonprofits operate on minimal budgets which limit staff positions and capacity. Consequently, only rarely, do organizations turn their attention from addressing urgent community needs, to assessing their own organization’s strengths and weaknesses.  Limited time and/or finances restrict access to training that could make staff even more effective in service provision, management practice and develop future leadership.

When it comes to organizational governance, boards are often comprised of those with great empathy for the cause, but who would welcome more clarity about their roles. Term limits also create the need for a constant pipeline of new, qualified board members.

The growing number of nonprofits multiplies these issues, and brings unique challenges for brand new organizations. For all these reasons, systematic, comprehensive, affordable training and leadership capacity-building opportunities are critically important for both staff and board members – equipping this next generation to lead and govern.  Armed with effective leadership, nonprofits will be more likely to sustainably thrive.

Our Investment

Success in enhancing the profile of nonprofit leadership (board and staff) will be reflected in this community change: 

More effective leaders creating lasting impact in organizations, within their service sector, the larger nonprofit sector, and the community.

The Foundation has identified 3 specific priorities:

  • LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS Equipping nonprofits with knowledge of key principles and competencies for nonprofit effectiveness.
  • LEADERSHIP EXCELLENCE Equipping nonprofit leaders with advanced, skills and abilities for vision alignment, shared cultural focus on mission and an effective organization,
  • COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP Equipping nonprofit leaders to become advocates for sector change and catalyst for community impact.

Path to Impact

Click here to review our NPE Path to Impact



Sustain Abilities

Sustain Abilities is a one-year, six session-course, designed for joint participation by executive directors and board chairs. This joint participation facilitates embedding the learnings into both staff and the full board. Each successive year builds on the basic topics covered in the year prior with intention of building board culture and staff/board alignment. There are 4 “advancing” levels, with an “alumni” opportunity which is an opportunity for agencies previously engaged to begin again if leadership has changed or if other members of leadership have been identified for attendance to assist the organization with embedding the learning. Two members (board president or designated board member and ED), partner through this cohort based learning experience, building communication effectiveness and implementation strength. In Sustain Abilities, focus is on more engaged boards, building board culture, deeper donor relationships, with a financial plan developed by the end of the program, working toward long-term sustainability. Such things as capital campaign readiness assessment, donor communications, and planned giving are discussed. The deliverables at the end of the program is a richer understanding of the success factors and an action plan for incorporating them into the board and staff “DNA”. (Outcome measurement provided by JDLA).


Next Generation Leadership Academy (Executive Education Certification through IU-SPEA)

Designed as ‘best in class’ training for executive directors who have been in key nonprofit leadership positions in our community a short time and those who have been identified as leadership successors for the organization.  The goal of the Leadership Academy is to build the leadership capacity of participants and thereby strengthen organizations. Modules consist of Nonprofit Management, Strategic Planning, Program Evaluation, Marketing and Communications, Financial Analysis, Human Relations, and Principles of Fundraising History.


Fundamentals of Nonprofit Management

The Fundamentals of Nonprofit Management course is designed to assist participants’ understanding in the foundational components of a nonprofit. Although staff and board members may have varying degrees of experience and expertise, a shared learning experience on the essential framework can assist a collective approach with the desired outcome of increasing the ability to effectively manage a nonprofit, thereby establishing and strengthening the organization. The intended audience is that of one consistent staff member (executive director) and a consistent board member (in most cases it will be the board chair) who partner through a “linked module” cohort learning of 6, one-day sessions covering such areas as: Governance and Leadership, Planning and Evaluation, Marketing and Communication, Fundraising, Managing Human Resources & Compliance, Volunteer Management and Finance. We hope for participants to engage with an inclusive lens so as to be mindful of their organization’s stakeholders and diverse potential client populations as they gain insight.

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