How can We Better Support Emerging Leaders in the Not-For-Profit Sector?

Leadership: Develop Unlimited Talent
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May 9, 2017 | Blog

The not-for-profit sector introduces and channels young people’s desire to make change. These young leaders will make up the next generation of the not-for-profit sector. Our ability to retain these skilled young workers and foster their growth and development now will have a significant impact on the future of mission-based work in Canada.

Imagine Canada Report

Imagine Canada took a snap-shot of young workers in the Greater Toronto area, to highlight the challenges of working in the not-for-profit sector and to understand the priorities the next generation. The report highlighted that young people are passionate about working in the not-for-profit sector and come with a deep passion and personal connection to the work.

A repeated theme was the interest to stay in the sector, but the challenges arose in areas such as: clarity of role expectations, opportunities for growth & professional development and stability of the roles themselves. It was noted that not-for-profits often require paid work experience for entry level positions, and are not as willing to accept unpaid work experience. Other challenges included fair compensation, highly competitive positions, and high employer expectations.

Report Recommendations

As not-for-profits we can begin by leveling up our internal policies and procedures to entice and keep these workers striving for the goals. Clarity around people policies and opportunities for professional development are among the top recommendations in the report. Vantage Point Resources

Below are a list of Vantage Point resources based on the Imagine Canada’s recommendations:

Create Clear Job Descriptions

Job Description: Determine exactly what you are looking for in a new role. Imagine Canada’s report highlights the importance of including exactly what you need in the role and the salary range.

Communicate Role Expectations

Employee Onboarding Checklist: Use this checklist can help get you and your new hire prepped and ready to go.  

Performance Management System for Salaried Employees: Learn how to align the activities of each its salaried employee to the annual strategic plan and to the delivery of our organization’s mission.

Organizational Chart: Help young leaders understand where they fit within the organization and clearly communicate who they should report to.

Engage Young Workers

A People Lens: Change your perspective on how to engage people in your organization.

Mission Focused Decision Making: Good decision-making creates the foundation for team members to feel engaged with their role, develop their skills, and make their best contribution to organizational goals. 

Foster Career & Leadership Development

Succession Planning: Succession plans are critical to the success of your organization and should provide for a process that recognizes, develops and retains leadership talent.

Stretch Assignments: Stretch assignments can be a powerful, but often overlooked type of leadership development opportunity

Annual Goal Setting & Development: Use this worksheet to develop annual performance goals, assess progress and provide feedback to ensure that employees are meeting their objectives and career goals.

Leadership Exploration: With this new leadership exploration tool, challenge yourself to reflect on what you want to see in yourself, your relationships, and your community. Vantage Point can also provide consulting and professional development to support the emerging leaders in your organization.

Read the full report by Imagine Canada: Young People & Nonprofit Work

Dana Osiowy headshot


Dana Osiowy

Dana Osiowy has more than 20 years’ experience as a people engager throughout the not-for-profit sector. As a youth services manager and a funding liaison for a crown corporation she has spent her career holding fast to the slogan “nothing about us without us”. She has spent time in organizational development with not-for-profits at various stages of their lifecycles including the idea stage. She has also done much work in board fundamentals including policy development as a foundation to functional boards and functional organizations. As the former Engagement Manager and current Knowledge Philanthropist with Vantage Point, Dana is responsible for supporting, facilitating and engaging a variety of not-for-profits through their governance and strategic planning adventures. Currently, Dana is guiding the ship at New Westminster Family Place.

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