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Learning about Nonprofit Leadership in Washington State

Leadership trends you need to know

A little history...In 2015, the Statewide Capacity Collaborative (SCC) released a Leadership Scan for Washington State. The report identified the types of leadership development services nonprofit leaders preferred and what they saw as missing from available resources. Respondents identified lack of time and financial resources as barriers to accessing trainings, coaching, degree programs and other options. Both rural and suburban nonprofit professionals reported that geographic access is also a barrier.

Subsequent to this report, the SCC requested proposals to develop this catalog - or listing service - for professional development resources for nonprofit and community leaders. A group of nonprofit organizations, called the Leadership Development Partners, successfully responded to the SCC's request:

  • Washington Nonprofits
  • University of Washington Evans School
  • Seattle University Nonprofit Leadership Program
  • Nonprofit Network of Southwest Washington
  • Center for Ethical Leadership
  • 501 Commons

In July 2018, LDP conducted a series of 40 interviews with leaders from underrepresented communities such as people of color, immigrants and refugees, rural residents, and LGBTQ individuals. A report summarizing the findings can be read here.

Literature Review & Taxonomy of Literature Development Programs

As the Leadership Development Partners set out to create a website where nonprofit staff and community leaders could find out about training, degree programs, coaches and other resources, Seattle University undertook a literature review of research and writings about nonprofit leadership. This document may introduce you to some new approaches and ways of answering the question "What is nonprofit leadership?"

Foundational & Emerging Models of Leadership Development: A Review of Literature by Seattle University Nonprofit Leadership Program in April 2018.

The SU's Nonprofit Leadership Program then created a Taxonomy of Leadership Development Programs that helped define the structure of the listings you find on this site. 

Theory of Change

We also developed a theory of change that describes how to capitalize on high turnover in the sector in order to expand the racial and ethnic diversity of nonprofit leaders. The theory of change model also maps the resources and strategies necessary to increase the investment made in people who work in our sector. The four strategies in our theory of change are:

  • Provide those in the field with access to high quality training and professional development resources.
  • Build an "on-ramp" to nonprofit careers for people who demonstrate leadership in informal and volunteer roles by addressing community issues, building movements, and galvanizing change.
  • Deliver training and services to support cultural change in organizations so that people of color received more support and advancement.
  • Change how business, government, and philanthropy relate to nonprofits and provide resources for leadership development.