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2016 Observership Program for NFP Boards


1 September 2015 at 10:29 am
Ellie Cooper
Applications are now open for the 2016 Observership Program which pairs young professionals as “observers” with the boards of a Not for Profit organisations for twelve months.

Ellie Cooper | 1 September 2015 at 10:29 am


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2016 Observership Program for NFP Boards
1 September 2015 at 10:29 am

Applications are now open for the 2016 Observership Program which pairs young professionals as “observers” with the boards of a Not for Profit organisations for twelve months.

Modelled on a successful program in the United States, the initiative was launched in 2012 by former investment banker and now chairman of The Observership Program in Australia, Jonathan Gavshon.  

“This innovative program, now in its fourth year, is a highly successful initiative designed to engage the next generation in Not for Profit leadership,” Gavshon said.

Selected via a competitive application process, each Observer is paired with the board of a Not for Profit organisation for one calendar year. Observers attend all board meetings as non-voting members, gaining insight into fundamental governance and decision-making processes.

Gavshon said the program’s initial pilot yielded impressive results, with 25 per cent of boards inviting their Observer to join as a fully-fledged member. He said that the program will change the way that the community sector thinks about succession planning.

“It is a rare opportunity for these boards to engage the talents and perspectives of the next generation in a low-risk, meaningful way that ensures they are provided with the support to contribute properly,” he said.

Not for Profits in NSW are also invited to join the Observership Program and allow a young professional to sit on their board as an Observer for a 12-month period.

The Observership Program patron, and company director with extensive experience in the Not for Profit and for-profit sectors, David Gonski said the Program is an outstanding way for future directors to gain experience in what to do and indeed what not to do round the board table.

“I think it is so good that I am filled with regret that it or a similar program didn’t exist when I was young,” Gonski said.

The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), Philanthropy Australia and JCA are strategic partners and are assisting in driving the growth of the program.

The Not for Profit said the AICD delivers a tailor-made training program over five intensive sessions, focusing on directors’ key duties and responsibilities in the Not for Profit sector.  

“It is a challenge for Not for Profit boards to balance succession with continuity, as well as ensuring diversity in board membership,” Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) CEO Edward Santow said.

“The high calibre of the Observership Program participants, and the training that the Program provides, makes this exceptionally valuable for our organisation.”

Applications are open until Sunday 13 September 2015. Further information about the application process can be found on The Observership Program website.


Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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