Generating Change

The purpose of Generating Change is to encourage and enable funders to increase support for talent development in grantee organizations and to build a healthy leadership pipeline for the nonprofit sector.

We encourage you to check out our online took kit for funders, that includes our framing paper and the corresponding case studies, videos and resources.

And we invite you to use the social media embedded on this site to ask questions, pose challenges and share the actions you take with your peers.

The MOST Critical Element of Success in Grantmaking

Foundations depend on strong, well-led nonprofit organizations to deliver vital services, shift policies and practices and transform communities.  Foundations are only as effective as the nonprofits they support, and nonprofits are only as effective as the people who lead them. Therefore, supporting effective nonprofit leaders makes perfect sense.

But supporting nonprofit talent and leadership development isn’t just about return on investment for grantmaking—it’s about sustaining and strengthening the people, organizations and the entire sector in order to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Generating Change calls on both funders and nonprofits to make talent and leadership development an integral part of their work.

It’s Time for Some Action

The Generating Change tool kit showcases the activities of funders who understand the importance of supporting nonprofit talent and leadership development and the impact that occurs when foundations engage. Funders of all types and sizes are featured in the tool kit, with approaches and investments that range from pinpoint interventions to national programs.

We created the tool kit to build on EPIP’s vision of a strong, well-defined pipeline for thousands of passionate, talented people with varied backgrounds and perspectives to enrich and strengthen the sector: people who will build diverse, meaningful, lifelong civic careers. These leaders, in turn, will strengthen the work of nonprofit organizations and their ability to improve society.

We encourage you to share the tool kit with colleagues and to download and share the Generating Change framing paper as well.

Our deepest thanks are extended to Putnam Community Investment Consulting for the creation of the framing paper and case studies, and to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Kresge Foundation without whose generous support this initiative would not have been possible.

UPDATE: The case studies contained in this tool kit were commissioned by Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy under the leadership of Rusty Stahl. We encourage you to learn more about Rusty’s current project: the Fund the People, where he now serves as President and CEO. 

Why EPIP is Involved

Our mission at EPIP is to develop new leaders for foundations and the communities they serve and impact. Our guiding principles focus on building a field that is mult-generational, professional and effective, and helps to bring about a more just, equitable and sustainable society. In fact, EPIP is one the few groups within the foundation field raising questions about generational and talent issues and advocating for multi-generational solutions.

Our movement brings an important leadership perspective to the philanthropic and nonprofit sector. Indeed, many EPIP members have struggled with accessing the information and tools needed to craft our own nonprofit and philanthropic careers, so have a personal understanding of the structural challenges faced by the nonprofit workforce. Generating Change is one way to mobilize our voice for change, rooted in our purpose and values.


A large-scale generational demographic shift in American society is impacting leadership and talent assets in workplaces across all sectors, as baby boomers begin to contemplate retirement and new leaders and leadership opportunities begin to emerge. In the late 1990s, the War for Talent study by McKinsey and Co. helped the private sector awake to the importance of talent as a critical business challenge and a critical driver of organizational performance.

The public sector took on the challenge in 2001 when philanthropist Samuel Heyman launched the Partnership for Public Service. The goal is to restore prestige to government service and reestablish the federal government as an attractive employer. Heyman’s actions were motivated by the looming retirement of his generation; he viewed this unprecedented loss of talent from federal service and the increasing inability of government to attract and retain top workers as one of the greatest threats to our national prosperity.

The nonprofit world became widely cognizant of our sector’s current workforce and generational issues only in 2006 when Bridgespan released its report, The Nonprofit Sector’s Leadership Deficit. Rather than resulting in a large-scale mobilization for solutions, the new awareness caused a panic. Years later, most foundations have yet to comprehensively address nonprofit workforce and generational challenges. McKinsey’s book aimed to inculcate a “talent mindset” in corporate America. The Partnership for Public Service works to build political will, recruit talent to the government sector, and fuel innovation and cultural change in federal agencies. Foundations have yet to make a concerted effort along similar lines.

Funders who are supporting leadership and talent in the nonprofit sector will tell you that they feel isolated — and that they are trying to shift from making the case that there is a problem to identifying and spreading solutions. But with limited knowledge about funder interventions in this area, too little has been known or shared about innovative solutions and promising practices.

Generating Change aims to educate the funding community about this issue, offering knowledge about what is being done and what can be done by funders, and spark increased levels of action and investment in nonprofit leadership and talent. Thank you for helping to generate change!

Track Record

To date, EPIP has engaged in the following planning activities:

  • Compiled research on pipeline and generational issues in the nonprofit sector and other realms of public service. Ongoing.
  • Cosponsored a young people’s reception at the 2004 Independent Sector conference, along with Public Allies,, and American Humanics. Fall 2004.
  • Participated in a weekend meeting about next steps for progressive leadership development on college campuses. The retreat was pulled together by staff at Young People for the American Way, The League of Young Voters, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Fall 2004.
  • Led a weekend retreat called “Cross-Age Collaboration for Social Justice,” which brought together 20 activists, scholars and funders across 3 generations to explore what inter-generational learning could mean for social movements. Fall 2003.
  • Our New York City and Bay Area chapters have held discussions about how our constituents can help get resources to youth organizing. Both events were held in collaboration with funders collaboratives for youth organizing. 2004.
  • Sponsored funder briefings in New York City and Boston on the Young Elected Leaders Project, a Rutgers University research effort that explores the demographics and politics of over 800 elected leaders under 35 years of age. 2003.
  • Sent members to a one day conference, “Young People’s Issues: A Conversation, ” held by the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation. 2003.

Generating Change Advisory Committee

Steve Bauer, Nonprofit Workforce Coalition Gregg Behr, The Grable Foundation

Ben Binswanger, Skoll Foundation,

Kevin Bolduc, Center for Effective Philanthropy Jessica Coloma, W.K. Kellogg Foundation Laura Cronin, Toshiba Foundation

Emily Davis, EDA Consulting

Pamela David, Walter and Elise Haas Fund

Russ Finkelstein, formerly of

Jason Franklin, North Star Fund

Christopher Gates, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement

Megan Hoot, Independent Sector

Taj James, Movement Strategy Center

Don Jordan, Atlantic Philanthropies

Abby Kiesa, The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, Tufts U. Daniel Kessler, Boston Consulting Group

Jill Kramer, Lumina Foundation for Education

Frances Kunreuther, Building Movement Project, Demos

Amy Lazarus, Sustained Dialogue Campus Network

Rafael López, The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Mary Manuel, McKay Foundation

Pauline White Meeusen, Philanthropic Consultant

Tera Wozniak Qualls, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network

David Simms, The Bridgespan Group

Susan Stroud, Innovations in Civic Participation

Charles Ugalde, RYSE Center

Linda Wood, Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund