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Multi million dollar program launches to support NFP leaders flourish


8 February 2021 at 5:33 pm
Maggie Coggan
It’s hoped that the program will increase the capability of NFP leaders and organisations for a better civil society.


Maggie Coggan | 8 February 2021 at 5:33 pm


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Multi million dollar program launches to support NFP leaders flourish
8 February 2021 at 5:33 pm

It’s hoped that the program will increase the capability of NFP leaders and organisations for a better civil society.

A five-year, fully-funded program to develop the skills and capabilities of charity leaders has the potential to transform the way social change is achieved, experts say. 

Launched by the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) on Friday, the $9 million Social Impact Leadership Australia (SILA) program will be collaboratively funded by The Myer Foundation, the Sidney Myer Fund, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and the Paul Ramsay Foundation. 

Leonard Vary, CEO of The Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund, said that the idea stemmed from recognition of a damaging and persistent lack of investment in the leadership of the for-purpose sector in Australia.

“Beyond mere professional development, SILA is a powerful way to influence whole organisations, while ensuring the next tier of leaders is ready to take the reins and lead for social impact,” Vary said. 

Up to 24 community sector CEOs will be able to participate in the program which draws on the learnings and successes of similar initiatives from America.  

The course will involve leadership workshops, a tailored sabbatical where leaders will completely disengage from their organisations for three months, one-on-one coaching, and dedicated organisational capacity building support.

One third of participants for the program will come from rural and regional areas, a focus that Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation CEO Jenny Wheatley noted was important. 

“It is critical that we develop a truly national program. By broadening our reach in this way, we are ensuring we will be available to a diverse group of leaders and organisations from across Australia,” Wheatley said. 

Creating a new kind of culture  

Kristy Muir, the CEO of the CSI, told Pro Bono News that while enormous amounts of money were often funnelled into developing public and corporate sector leaders, up until now, there hadn’t been the same kind of money or interest shown in the NFP sector.

“This is really about lifting that philanthropic culture and demonstrating collective leadership to encourage investment in that for-purpose organisation capacity building,” Muir said. 

“We have no shortage of incredible talent and purpose and commitment in the sector, but the question is, what happens if we actually invest in them in all of the ways that the evidence shows [will] help them really achieve their goals?” 

She said that investing time and money in leaders meant that they would be able to lead their organisations and deliver social outcomes in a much more efficient way. 

“If you look at the three-month sabbatical component for instance, we know that it is enormously important for CEOs in this sector to make time for self-reflection and rejuvenation,” Muir said.  

“And the evidence shows that once you give CEOs at that level that time they come back ready to deliver in a big way.” 

She also said that organisations would be supported during the periods of time when their CEO is absent. 

“There is support for the step up leader while the CEO is on sabbatical and on any of these retreats and there will be coaching wrapped around these for both the CEO and the step-in CEO later,” she said. 

The program will also be independently evaluated over its five years so that CSI researchers can adapt and adjust it accordingly over time. 

Find out more about the program here. 


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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