Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute

The Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute (NELI) at the University of Washington is a six-day residential program designed to enhance the strategic and visionary thinking of experienced nonprofit executives. Participants examine their leadership skills and effectiveness, learn new management techniques, develop a network of peers, build visionary leadership to implement strategic planning, and increase their ability to use financial management to enhance the decision-making process.

Go »

Mid-Career Institute for Environmental Leaders

The Mid-Career Institute for Environmental Leaders (MIEL) at Seattle University is designed to enable mid-level nonprofit environmental leaders in the Northwest to assume larger leadership roles in their organizations. Its five-day residential program teaches strategy formation, adaptive leadership and organizational change, equity and environmental justice, fundraising and financial sustainability, and effective governance. Subsequently, participants receive a 360-degree leadership assessment and one-on-one coaching, and attend equity training and a virtual cohort gathering. The Brainerd Foundation recently invested in the development of this program and we’re pleased to partner with other foundations in sponsoring grantees to attend.

Go »

Grantee Close-up: Emerging Leaders Board

In 2010, the Oregon Environmental Council created an Emerging Leaders Board to increase the engagement of younger Oregonians in its work. In 2016, the Brainerd Foundation took a closer look to see what we can learn from this approach. Our findings and advice for other organizations working to engage the next generation are available here.

Go »

The Next Generation of Environmental Leaders: Opportunities for Investment and Action in the Northwest

For two decades, the Brainerd Foundation has invested in the capacity and leadership of environmental organizations to build power for conservation. As we trek towards our sunset in 2020, we are committed to strengthening the bench of new talent for the conservation movement. To help develop this initiative, Brainerd staff explored how we can best build the next generation of conservation leaders in the Northwest. Here's what we learned.

Go »

Leadership on the Line

This book by Ron Heifitz and Marty Linsky explores how leadership requires that we surface conflict and challenge long-held beliefs. It also covers often-neglected aspects of leadership, such as thinking politically, maintaining focus while taking the "heat," and managing our own blind spots.

Go »

Building Leaderful Organizations: Succession Planning for Nonprofits

This report examines the development of leadership skills throughout an organization as a key strategy for succession planning and strengthening capacity. This publication presents emergency succession planning tools (an important "risk management" practice), and offers executive directors concrete guidance for thinking about when and how to leave an organization. It also includes suggestions for boards in being proactive in assuring the sustainability of the organizations for which they are responsible.

Go »

Twelve Principles of Governance that Power Exceptional Boards

BoardSource convened a group of governance experts and, together, explored the characteristics of exceptional boards. Defining and analyzing their common traits and actions, they distilled the essence of what great boards do that is different and how they do it.

Go »

Training Resources for the Environmental Community

TREC's focus is on leaders and their development, inspiration, and activation. Their programs, currently available only to Wilburforce Foundation grantees, include the Stepping Up to Leadership program, which is helping to elevate promising mid-level staff that are looking to increase their knowledge, skills, and confidence in leadership and management.

Go »

Nonprofit Leadership Best Practices

At the Brainerd Foundation, we recognize that effective organizations practice leadership at all levels. Of course, leadership from the executive director and board are critical components to high functioning nonprofits, but senior management, junior staff, and volunteers should not be overlooked for their roles in strengthening overall organizational leadership now and in the future. Having supported capacity building since its inception, we offer here some of the best practices in the leadership of nonprofit organizations.

Go »

BoardSource Learning Center and Store

BoardSource is the world's largest, most comprehensive publisher of material on nonprofit governance. They offer a large selection of booklets, books, videotapes, and audiotapes. They also provide a highly regarded Leadership Certificate for Nonprofit Chief Executives.

Go »

Nonprofit Leadership Training Inventory

The Brainerd Foundation maintains this resource that provides information about various nonprofit leadership training programs and providers.

Go »

The Practice of Adaptive Leadership

This book by Ron Heifitz, Mary Linsky, and Alexander Grashow is a hands-on, practical guide containing stories, tools, diagrams, cases, and worksheets to help you develop your skills as an adaptive leader, able to take people outside their comfort zones and assess and address the toughest challenges.

Go »

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Written by Chip and Dan Heath, this book explores how leaders can affect transformative change in their organizations.

Go »

Leadership Self-Assessment Tool

The Brainerd Foundation created this tool based upon the Capacity Assessment Tool created by McKinsey and Company for Venture Philanthropy Partners. It is designed to help you evaluate your organization against best practices in the leadership of nonprofit organizations. We hope it will provide fodder for internal discussion about the effectiveness of your organization and opportunities for support of your capacity aspirations.

Go »

Ready to Lead? Next Generation Leaders Speak Out

A skilled, committed, and diverse pool of next generation leaders would like to be nonprofit executive directors in the future, according this national survey of nearly 6,000 next generation leaders. However, the survey also finds that there are significant barriers. This is the largest national survey to date of emerging nonprofit leaders and was produced by the Meyer Foundation in partnership with CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Idealist.org.

Go »

Institute for Conservation Leadership

ICL offers a number of learning opportunities through public programs and workshops around North America, ranging from one hour to one year in length. They have been carefully crafted to take advantage of the latest learning tools and provide organizational and leadership training specific to conservation and environmental nonprofits. Their Leading from Within program is held in two three-day workshops and includes coaching and structured peer mentoring over a five-month period.

Go »

Building Executive Leadership Capacity

Recognizing the role that leadership plays in the effectiveness of our grantees, our foundation has grappled with how groups support leadership in ways that will ensure high performing organizations. To explore these questions more deeply, we contracted with Janna Rolland, a consultant with extensive experience in both nonprofit management and leadership. The findings of her research are available here.

Go »

Rockwood Leadership Institute

The Rockwood Leadership Institute was founded in 2000 to provide individuals, organizations, and networks in the social benefit sector with powerful and effective training in leadership and collaboration. Rockwood teaches skills and tools that help leaders overcome organizational challenges; inspire and align individuals and organizations toward producing quality outcomes; develop collaborative skills; decrease "burn-out;" and create organizations that celebrate sustainability and diversity.

Go »