Renewing Leaders for Long-Term Service

Challenge

  Keep highly effective nonprofit leaders from burning out and leaving the field

Approach

  Create a paid, three-month sabbatical when leaders focus exclusively on renewing themselves

Investment

  $313,600 to support six leaders every two years

Result

  Leaders return reinvigorated for the long haul, fortified with new perspectives, vision, ideas, peer networks and work-life balance

Players

  Durfee Foundation, Center for the Pacific Asian Family

Why Invest in Renewal?

“We wish more foundations would support renewal. It’s always been hard to work in this sector, but especially now when funding is tough and there’s such potential for burnout. People need to find their inner reserves. As work in the sector gets tougher, more people want to bail. This is a way to stem that tide.”

— Claire Peeps, Durfee Foundation

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Download the RENEWAL case study (743k).

Like many highly effective nonprofit leaders, Debra Suh’s life moves at a fast pace. At 33, she took on the executive director role at Center for the Pacific Asian Family, an organization that tackles stressful domestic violence and sexual assault issues 24 hours a day. In her first eight years, she gave birth to two children, lost a brother and worked 15-hour days to successfully grow the agency.

“I was on the verge of burning out,” she explains. “I wasn’t feeling balanced, and although I loved my work, I was questioning whether I was doing the right thing.”