Giving Compass' Take:

• Fund the People discusses the importance of investing in and fostering nonprofit talent, citing four areas where funders can see impact.

• While some grantmakers may not need see funding infrastructure as "sexy," this piece shows the model on how heavy engagement in hiring great employees improves the sector.

What the staff does is often more important than any mission statement, as this piece explains.

What happens when funders invest in nonprofit staff, and can it go beyond the individual to improve organizational performance and programmatic outcomes? Foundations that have taken the plunge into talent-investing — and measured the results along the way — can offer some insights. In this post, I share my findings from studying 16 of these evaluations from funders including the Bill and Melinda Gates, Annie E. Casey, Robert Wood Johnson, and Blue Shield of California foundations.

Over the last several months, as a graduate fellow with Fund the People, I have gathered and analyzed evaluations of talent-investments by foundations to look for common outcomes. The results of this research establish baseline data based on some of the existing information in the field. In addition to reviewing reports, I conducted interviews with foundation staff, evaluators, and industry leaders to better understand the results of these evaluations. Throughout this exploration, I observed the meaningful impact that talent-investing can have on strengthening individual leaders, nonprofit organizations, and fields of work and social movements across different methodologies, interventions, and locations. These findings ought to be shared widely, discussed, and tested further to improve philanthropic practices.

Here are four results of talent-investing supported by my research:

  1. Bringing Skills Back to Organizations
  2. Creating Networks of Nonprofit Professionals and Field Leaders to Build the Sector
  3. Creating a Shared Vision to Drive Change
  4. Building Relationships with Funders to Improve Philanthropy

The 16 evaluations of investments in nonprofit staff that I studied offer important evidence that talent-investing can bring new skills back to organizations, build or strengthen networks, create shared visions across fields, and improve funder-grantee relationships. Foundations should take this evidence and use these programs as models to create their own investments in nonprofit staff that strengthen the sector and create social change. There is much to be learned, and even more to be gained, by valuing nonprofit staff in grantmaking.

Read the full article about talent investing by Emma Spalti at Fund the People.