Purpose of Guide

This Reading List offers a concrete set of resources that will orient you to Fund the People’s ideas and advocacy work for talent development and talent-investing.

How to Use

We recommend that your foundation carry out these discussions over the course of three to four months to allow for time to discuss this topic, reflect and consider opportunities to build the talent of nonprofit grantees, and take action on your grantmaking strategy. It is essential that you involve several groups in driving this process: representatives from your foundation’s leadership, program, grants management staff (if applicable), board of trustees, and other key stakeholders. The guide can be used with the foundation’s full team or sub-groups (executive leadership, program staff, program teams, grants committees, board, etc.).

Where this comes from

This list was created based in part on the citations in the Fund the People (formerly Talent Philanthropy Project) article published in The Foundation Review in October 2013. The result of a year of intensive study and research and development, the article attempted to offer a straightforward intellectual grounding for Fund the People, which launched a year later in 2014.

A recent history of thinking

These materials also offer a window into the evolution of thought on nonprofit talent during the last 15 years or so. Some of these ideas we have informed and been folded into Fund the People’s framework; others we are challenging. This reading list can be used in a variety of ways by you and your foundation or nonprofit organization to continue to build your knowledge and understanding of talent-investing.

For each reading, we have provided a link.

Themes across the readings

Overall, this reading list addresses four inter-locking themes that, taken together, inform the Fund the People framework.

  • Generational change in nonprofit workplace
  • Employment, career, and labor market trends
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion in nonprofits
  • Nonprofit finances and funding

Reading List


McKinsey & Company (2001).
The War for Talent: Organization and Leadership Practice.

Cryer, S. (2004).
Recruiting and Retaining the Next Generation of Nonprofit Sector Leadership: A Study of the (Missed) Connections Among Nonprofit Organizations, College Seniors, and Offices of Career Services.
The Initiative for Nonprofit Sector Careers [which was later housed at American Humanics (the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance) and publicly referred to as the Nonprofit Workforce Coalition].

Kunreuther, F. (2005).
Up Next: Generation Change and the Leadership of Nonprofit Organizations.
Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Hubbard. B. (2005).
Investing in Leadership, Volume 1: Inspiration and Ideas from Philanthropy’s Latest Frontier.
Grantmakers for Effective Organizations.

Teirney, T. (2006).
The Nonprofit Sector’s Leadership Deficit (Executive Summary).
The Bridgespan Group.

Enright, K. (2006).
Investing in Leadership, Volume 2: Inspiration and Ideas from Philanthropy’s Latest Frontier.
Grantmakers for Effective Organizations.

Overholser, G. (2006).
Buying is Not Building.
Nonprofit Finance Fund Capital Partners.

Dan Pallota, (2006).
Why the Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong.
TED Talks.

Halpern, R. (2007)
Workforce Issues in the Nonprofit Sector: Generational Leadership Change and Diversity.
American Humanics Initiative for Nonprofit Sector Careers.

Solomon, J. & Sandahl, Y. (2007).
Stepping Up or Stepping Out: A Report on the Readiness of Next Generation Nonprofit Leaders.
Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.

Goggins-Gregory, A. & Howard, D. (2009).
The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle.
Stanford Social Innovation Review.

McGonagill, G. & Reinelt, C. (2011).
Leadership Development in the Social Sector: a Framework for Supporting Strategic Investments.
The Foundation Review, 2(4), 57-72.

Schwartz, R., Weinberg, J., Hagenbuch, D. & Scott, A. (2011).
The Voice of Nonprofit Talent: Perceptions of Diversity in the Workplace.
Commongood Careers and Level Playing Field Institute.

Dobkin, D. & Tchume, T. (2011).
Good in Theory, Problems in Practice: Young Professionals’ Views on Popular Leadership Development Strategies.
Young Nonprofit Professionals Network

Kunreuther, F., Segal, S., & Clohesy, S. (2012).
The New Life Cycle of Work: Long-Term Nonprofit Leaders Prepare for Their Future.

Solomon, L., Sokolowski, S. & Geller, S. (2012).
Holding the Fort: Nonprofit Employment During a Decade of Turmoil.
Johns Hopkins University.

Chandler, A., Russell, E., & Putnam-Walkerly, K. (2012).
Generating Change: Investing in a New Era of Nonprofit Talent and Leadership. Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy.
Note: This is the “framing paper” for EPIP’s (Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy) Generating Change Initiative, which was the predecessor of Talent Philanthropy Project / Fund the People. The paper and case study series with which it was paired were conceptualized, commissioned, informed, and edited by Rusty Stahl.

Hoffman, R., Casnocha, B., & Yeh, C. (2013).
Tours of Duty: The New Employer-Employee Compact.
Harvard Business Review, 91(6), 49.

Taylor, A., Harold, J., & Berger, K. (2013).
The Overhead Myth: Open Letter to the Donors of America.
BBB Wise Giving Alliance, GuideStar and Charity Navigator.

Upholt, G. & Stahl, R. (2013).
The Nonprofit Talent Ratio: Final Report on a Pilot Study.
Note: This paper was self-published by Talent Philanthropy Project. The research and writing was done primarily by Gretchen Upholt, an NYU graduate student and Graduate Fellow at Talent Philanthropy Project.

Stahl, R. (2013).
Talent Philanthropy: Investing in Nonprofit People to Advance Nonprofit Performance.
The Foundation Review.
Note: This article is the culmination of nearly a year of research, writing, and reflection by Rusty Stahl, with funding from Tides and Public Welfare Foundation, with support from NYU Wagner School of Public Service. It was written to offer a conceptual framework on which to build Talent Philanthropy Project.

Canales, J. (2014).
What is a Leadership Funder?
Stanford Social Innovation Review Blog, (“Talent Matters” blog series).

Hirshfield, I. (2014).
Investing in Leadership to Accelerate Philanthropic Impact.
Stanford Social Innovation Review Blog, (“Talent Matters” blog series).

Callanan, L., et al. (2014).
What Social-Sector Leaders Need to Succeed.
McKinsey & Company.

Stahl, R. “Talent Investing: Raising and Granting Funds to Develop Social Change Leadership” in Carpenter, H. & Qualls T. (2015).
The Talent Development Platform: Putting People First in Social Change Organizations.

Landles-Cobb, L., Kramer, K., & Smith Milway, K. (2015).
The Nonprofit Leadership Development Deficit.
Stanford Social Innovation Review and Bridgespan.

Ono, E. (2016).
Moving Arts Leadership Forward: A Changing Landscape.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Note: Written by Fund the People (formerly Talent Philanthropy Project) Advisory Council member Emiko Ono. Rusty Stahl was a reviewer of the report, and the report utilizes and cites our work.

About Fund the People

Fund the People

Fund the People is the national campaign to maximize investment in the nonprofit workforce. To achieve this goal, we make the case, equip for action, and build a movement to change the attitudes and behaviors of funders, fundraising nonprofits, and the intermediaries that support them. There is a long-standing, sector-wide deficit of investment in the nonprofit workforce. Nonprofit professionals work in environments typified by high burnout and stretched resources. So there is a real demand for equitable salaries and benefits, more and better professional development, improved human resources functions, and healthy organizational culture. Together, we can address these challenges by reshaping existing resources to prioritize nonprofit people as the central asset of nonprofit performance. Now more than ever, we can ensure that America’s civic leadership is diverse, well-supported, high-performing, and sustainable for the long haul. Launched in 2014 and headquartered in Beacon, NY, Fund the People (originally known as Talent Philanthropy Project) is a project of Community Partners. Our work is informed by an Advisory Council of diverse leaders and a team of skilled staff and consultants, and is supported by a coalition of regional and national foundations.

To learn more about Fund the People visit: fundthepeople.org



Financial Support for Fund the People’s Toolkit has been generously provided by American Express, Annie E. Casey Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Durfee Foundation, Ford Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.