What Are We Doing About It — Executive Transitions

Surveying and interviewing our grantees confirmed that MANY leaders of social justice organizations, particularly those led by women and people of color, lack the support they need to succeed during vulnerable executive director transitions. 

At veatch, we plan to honor what we’ve learned through this research by incorporating the following guiding principles more explicitly into our funding model.

Hold funding stable during executive transitions whenever possible — and help address potential bias against leaders who are women and people of color.

At Veatch, we value general operating and multi-year grants because we know our grantees are in it for the long haul — the structural changes our grantees are seeking to enact in the world will not occur overnight. While we have long recognized this point, and speak to its power often in conversations with our grantees, allies and the broader philanthropic community, we will now also more specifically recognize the importance of steady funding during leadership transitions, and the impact such a policy can have on helping reduce unintended bias against directors who are women and people of color. 

Increase financial support and technical assistance whenever possible during  executive transitions.

Executive transitions require resources — something more social justice groups recognize at the outset. Groups small and large are increasingly defining responsible transition plans and asking for support for them. Within philanthropy we can also take stronger steps to signal that these types of plans are well received as examples of the conscious efforts organizations make to strengthen their capacity and their impact.

Give space to leaders to lead — but support them where needed.

Our grantees prioritize the development of community leaders at every level of their organizations — many of the directors of Veatch grantees, in fact, start as entry level staff or even members, but are eventually supported by their organization into directorship roles. Supporting groups who conduct this type of long-term investment in their staff and membership is a cornerstone of the Veatch funding model — but it’s important to acknowledge that some of these new directors within our grantee network won’t come to the position with the same level of relationships and experiences expected of leaders within the broader non-profit community. Veatch values leadership development, recognizes this process takes time, and is committed facilitating, expanding and strengthening the networks of our grantees whenever possible or appropriate. 

Advocate for the adoption of these policies in the wider philanthropic community.

Within our broader philanthropic community, Veatch is a strong proponent of our funding model — long-term, general-operating support. We know that progress is not linear. Real change can take many years if not decades.  And we also trust our grantees to do what they do best: lead. Given the resources and the space they need to take action, our grantees justify our funding model time and again by brining about substantive changes for the communities they serve. Our research into executive transitions gives us yet another reason to promote our general operating, long-term funding model within the philanthropic community — doing so helps reduce bias against and increases support for directors who are women and people of color, as they assume leadership within their organizations. 

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