Not-for-profit organizations need to have more leaders in the pipeline. Emerging leaders in the sector need to be trained, retained, promoted, and supported to alleviate a serious leadership talent shortage. A study by The Bridgespan Group shows more than 70,000 unfilled executive positions among U.S. nonprofits during 2008 alone—representing a 43% increase in just 24 months.

Factors fueling the shortage range from inadequate compensation to a shrinking pool of candidates as baby boomers retire. Compounding the problem, most nonprofits lack the resources needed to train and cultivate new leaders from within their own ranks.

As part of its strong commitment to philanthropy and volunteerism, American Express is tackling the talent crisis head-on. The company has teamed with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) to train emerging nonprofit leaders in the skills they need to move up, take on new responsibilities, and lead their organizations into the future.

“Leadership development is critical in our own company, and we have a passion for it from the CEO down,” says Richard Brown, vice president of philanthropy for the American Express Foundation. “It seems natural for us to apply the same emphasis outside our walls and give nonprofits assistance they are in need of.”

The result is the American Express Nonprofit Leadership Academy. It’s a program designed to address the special
challenges nonprofit leaders face—from building coalitions . . . to leading volunteers . . . to managing limited resources strategically. Emerging leaders from nonprofits across the country are nominated for the program and compete for slots in each class. Those selected must hold a manager-level position, be dedicated to a career in the nonprofits, and show strong career momentum.

“We’ve found that individuals take great pride in being selected for this Academy that’s geared specifically to nonprofit leaders, which helps them to stay true to what they learn in the program,” says Shera Clark, manager of CCL’s Nonprofit Sector and the AMEX Academy’s lead faculty.

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