Make Sure Your Funding Works
for the People Who Make Nonprofits Work

Welcome to the Funding That Works Academy!

The Academy offers you an opportunity to transform your leadership in the philanthropic and nonprofit community. Our unique professional development experience will equip you with everything you need to ensure ‘funding that works’ for the people who make nonprofits work. Our premier course, Funding that Works: The Fundamentals of Talent-Investing, is essential for any funder, nonprofit, or intermediary leader who wants to advance equity, effectiveness, and endurance in the social sector.


The Fundamentals of Talent-Investing course was a powerful introduction to and grounding in the language, levers, and urgency of philanthropy’s role in supporting a thriving nonprofit sector workforce. “Convening with fellow funders and nonprofit partners virtually [through a cohort based on the course] created space for anecdotes, deep dialogue, and feedback, which was especially meaningful as it enabled me to better grasp where both funding and beyond-the-grant support can help make inroads towards more equitable workplaces and career trajectories for nonprofit partners and their staff team

LEIGH HANDSCHUH  //  The Boston Foundation

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Our Academy teaches you the Funding that Works Framework – a new mental model that can transform the talent-investing practices in the social sector. 

What You'll Learn

In 12 short video sessions totaling 3 hours, Rusty teaches the Funding that Works Framework, shifting how you lead and manage in your organization. You’ll learn:

  1. 1
    Power and Promise: You’ll learn about the value and contributions of the nonprofit workforce and its potential for even greater impact when it has the investment that it needs.
  2. 2
    Problem: You’ll get a reframed understanding of the crisis facing the nonprofit workforce, and a diagnosis of its causes and symptoms.
  3. 3
    Proposal: You’ll learn the concept of talent-investing, a transformative new approach to leading and managing in philanthropy and nonprofits.
  4. 4
    Principles: You’ll tap into the eight key values that directly address the drivers of the problem which will guide and add meaning to talent-investing.
  5. 5
    Practices: You’ll learn the eight core practices of talent-investing to help you integrate talent-investing into your work as a funder, nonprofit, or intermediary.
  6. 6
    Plan: You’ll get advice, reflection questions, and support so that you leave the course with a concrete plan for taking the first steps to integrate talent-investing into your work.

Feature Highlights

Each of our courses comes packed with the following materials:


12 videos from 15-20 minutes each, offer valuable lessons taught by Rusty Stahl, who founded Fund the People and developed the Funding that Works Framework.

Fillable PDFs

Worksheet materials enable you to reflect on what you’re learning, apply the ideas to your context, and craft your own plan of action. Our fillable PDF worksheets are custom-designed for the primary role you play (foundation professionals, nonprofit board members, etc.).

Quick Reads

Quick Reads offers a list of blog posts and brief materials that accompany and enrich each session.

Deeper Dives

Deeper Dives offer longer-form readings, podcast episodes, or videos that give you more background information and primary source material for each session.

Key Point Summaries

Key-takeaway pdfs for each session highlights the main ideas and concepts - a handy reference to have with you while you watch!

Why The Academy?

Nonprofits face an urgent and unprecedented workforce crisis which has become the #1 challenge facing the social sector. It isn’t just a nuisance for nonprofit managers and professionals; it makes it exponentially harder for nonprofits – and those who support them – to deliver critical services to our communities. The bottom line: No nonprofit people? No nonprofit programs. Our courses help you understand this problem in a new way, and then become part of the solution!

ENvision a Better Sector

Are you longing for the day when nonprofit workers are not just surviving, but thriving? When we’ve fixed the system itself, so that we can create equitable, effective, and enduring jobs and workplaces?


The dream of a people-centered nonprofit sector may seem like a distant mirage right now. But when funders, nonprofits, and intermediaries change their attitudes, policies and practices, we can bring it about in reality!

Thankfully, you are not alone in striving toward that day. Our Funding that Works Academy can help you move your organization faster and farther toward that vision through immediate, tangible, everyday actions.


Most academic and professional classes treat issues like organizational strategy, finances, fundraising and human resources as unrelated domains. Our courses break down these silos, and help you see how these disparate dimensions of philanthropic and nonprofit practice can contribute to and benefit from investment in nonprofit people.

"The Funding that Works Academy provided me with clear and tangible ways to approach supporters about the importance of investing in the nonprofit workforce."

DANIELLE BROOKS  // Nonprofit Professional

What You'll Take Away


To transform your work and advocate for investment in nonprofit people.

Concrete Ideas

For how to support nonprofit people within your sphere of influence.

A Plan of Action

That you custom-build for integration into your work and your context.

Curated Resources

To help you learn more and make the case for talent-investing.

Ongoing Support

Such as discounted rates on coaching, consulting, and community.

"Rusty helped me shift my understanding of nonprofit leadership needs and solidify my commitment to be a different type of funder."

CARI CULLEN  // Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Join Funding That Works Academy Today!

Our Approach

Here at Fund the People, we are committed to delivering premium quality professional development experiences. We strive to ensure that each of our courses is:

Accessible and Affordable

Select, purchase, and take your course all right here on the site – at your own pace!

Provocative but Practical

Our course sessions tackle topics that have been taboo or under-addressed in the sector. We give a balanced and widely distributed critique that illuminates how our institutions and practices are part of a shared problem, but we can all be part of a collective solution! And we offer not just pie-in-the-sky theory or assertions about the solution, but pragmatic, tangible tactics that can make a difference.

Unique and Engaging

Our sessions are conversational and brief, and are backed by tons of multimedia support materials to give you plenty of extra reading and listening resources.

Excellent and Enjoyable

Our lively course sessions and easy-to-use worksheets were created by Rusty Stahl, who is a passionate advocate of talent-investing.


We are launching the Academy with our series of self-paced “fundamentals” course series, starting with our course for Foundation Professionals. From there, we will offer more courses for people in various roles, which will be followed by cohorts, in-person workshops, and more.

What Participants Are Saying...

"Rusty provided information, research and opportunity to work with others who share the ideals of achieving equitable compensation for all."

JENNIFER ROLLER  //  The Raymond John Wean Foundation

"I was able to really go beyond my conventional understanding of nonprofit organizational structure."


"I developed my understanding of the obstacles that nonprofits face in investing in their people and the opportunities that talent investment can create."

PRIYA G.  //  Nonprofit Consultant, Coach and Facilitator

About Rusty Stahl

Our initial slate of "fundamentals" courses are taught by Rusty Stahl, creator of the Funding that Works framework. A nationally recognized thought-leader on investing in the nonprofit workforce, Rusty coined the phrases "talent-investing" and "talent justice." Stahl was named to The Power and Influence Top 50 List by The NonProfit Times in 2023, and his work has been cited in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inside Philanthropy, Nonprofit AF, and elsewhere.

Rusty has been developing ideas and practices for investment in the nonprofit workforce for 25 years. He has written and guided extensive research in this area, including Fund the People's signature Talent Justice study, which was created in partnership with the Center for Urban and Racial Equity. As host of Fund the People's podcast, Stahl has created a conversation in the field about talent-investing that has included dozens of funders, nonprofits, government leaders, intermediaries, and scholars. He has delivered advisory services, conference keynotes, cohort experiences, briefings, retreats, and workshops about talent-investing to funders and nonprofits in communities across the country and internationally. He synthesizes the ideas from these activities into Funding that Works courses.

Stahl holds an M.A. in Philanthropic Studies from Indiana University. He began his career as a Program Associate at the Ford Foundation. Rusty subsequently served as founding Executive Director of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP). After leading EPIP, he was a Visiting Scholar in Residence at NYU's Wagner School of Public Service. At NYU, Stahl developed the national initiative now known as Fund the People, where he serves as Founder, President and CEO.

As he guides you through our Funding that Works courses, Rusty offers up his creative ideas and expertise with his down-to-earth approach, self-deprecating humor, and clear commitment to our sector.


  • Our video sessions were edited by Michael Arginsky.
  • The easy-to-navigate course site was developed by strategist and web developer Amber-Celeste Aaronstein.
  • The courses were developed with input from training & education consultant Debra Kidney.
  • The courses were produced with help from Erin Giunta, Fund the People’s project and operations manager, and former consultant and producer of online programs Vanessa Viglietta.
  • Thanks to our Spring 2023 Pilot Cohort for their participation and thoughtful feedback.

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