By Yolanda Caldera-Durant, Vice President, Fund the People

How can young nonprofit professionals advocate for talent-investing at their organizations?

I found out at a Fund the People workshop that I facilitated at the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) conference this summer. Workshop participants were a mix of nonprofit and foundation professionals from across the U.S. We had a lively session about how they have been invested in and how they’d like to support talent-investing at their organizations. I was pleased to meet three participants whose nonprofit employer sent a staff team of five people to the YNPN conference to help them develop their leadership and skills. This was encouraging, given that many nonprofits cannot or will not send their staff members to conferences and trainings.

The workshop sparked an energetic discussion about how nonprofit professionals are thinking about adopting talent-investing. Three important themes came up during the workshop. These ideas are an important reminder that investing in nonprofit talent doesn’t necessarily have to be a heavy lift but instead allow nonprofit leaders and managers to think creatively about supporting their team members’ talent needs by using existing financial resources in a more thoughtful way.

  1. Making Talent-Investments More Equitable: Two workshop participants explained that their organizations pay for management-level staff to attend conferences and professional development training, but the support staff aren’t invested in the same way. They’re working with the leadership of their organizations to ensure that talent-investing is made more equitably available across the organizations regardless of the titles and roles of staff members.
  2. Listening & Learning from Nonprofits: Another workshop attendee’s organization (in this case, a foundation) currently funds their grantees to attend one-off trainings such as conferences and workshops. However, she is considering if that is the best use of their talent-investments. This funder is interested in hearing directly from grantee staff to learn what their specific talent needs are, and to redirect resources to support them in the most relevant way.
  3. Using Your Role to Embed Talent as an Organizational Priority: A workshop participant has recently taken on a new leadership role in resource development at her organization. She wants to determine how to to raise and allocate resources to best support the agency’s staff to carry out their work. She’s taking this time as she enters her new role to gather information and work with colleagues to help “bake-in” talent-investing into how the organization operates.

Hearing and learning from nonprofit leaders and funders is an important part of what Fund the People does. These opportunities allow us to consistently check in with our stakeholders to understand what ideas, data, strategies, and practices resonate with them. When we talk with emerging nonprofit professionals about talent-investing, we plant the seeds to expand how nonprofits think about and support the nonprofit workforce. It’s vital for these professionals to carry this message to their organizations — now and in the future — for talent-investing to take hold in the social sector. We can’t achieve organizational-level change — or systems-level change — without the engagement and advocacy of emerging leaders.

How are you advocating for talent-investment? We’d like to hear from you and understand what you’re learning and how it’s working. Contact me at Yolanda (at) fundthepeople.org.