April 13, 2021

Bridgespan Leadership Accelerator - FAQ

The sections below contain answers to frequently asked questions about our programs. 

Over the last two decades, Bridgespan has helped hundreds of nonprofit organizations effectively address key leadership and strategic issues. We have developed our programs in collaboration with a diverse set of global organizations, nonprofit leaders, and sector experts.

Our time-tested tools and innovative learning approaches have helped clients get clear on their strategies, accelerate their impact, improve their decision-making confidence, and empower their teams to prioritize the work that matters most.

We have rigorously tested our Leadership Accelerator programs to ensure that each program is impactful, actionable, and sustainable.

Our proven programs are:

  • Widely applicable across organization types and geographies
  • Consistently described by teams as among the most powerful tools they developed and continue to use over time 

That said, as a part of the application process, we also work with you to determine whether your organization will benefit from one of our upcoming program cohorts. If you’re interested in talking with one of our team members to assess whether these programs are a good fit for your team, schedule a consultation.

Each Leadership Accelerator program integrates an equity lens. In each program, this manifests differently depending on the topic at hand.

  • Achieving Strategic Clarity: The process of designing an Intended Impact and Theory of Change is powerful in helping you articulate and achieve your goals around equity. In the Achieving Strategic Clarity program, you will be asked to think about the impact you want to have and the communities you want to focus on. This is an intentional opportunity to think about the focus that you want to have on historically underserved communities or specific populations.
  • Investing in Future Leaders: Identifying and prioritizing development areas and drafting development plans for staff are key elements in building a stronger and more inclusive pipeline of leaders within your organization. In the Investing in Future Leaders program, you will be asked to think about how you develop your emerging leaders and ensure your talent development strategy reflects your goals and values. This is a unique opportunity to consider how your talent goals relate to your equity goals.
  • Strengthening the Executive Team: Equity and inclusion are critical topics for an executive team to consider. In this program, we explicitly integrate equity in a few ways: clarifying whether your executive team has goals that focus on equity and inclusion; offering suggestions for how your team might make decisions in a more equitable way; and including questions around equity and inclusion as part of the conversation on team dynamics.
  • Creating an Adaptive Plan: In this program you will articulate where you want your organization to be in two years and develop plans on how you will get there amidst uncertainty. As you name your two-year vision, you will discuss how you will center equity in your goals for impact as well as how your organization will look and operate. For example, you’ll consider ways you might further equity in the outcomes you seek, your approach to solution design, and your role in systemic change. You will also be asked to consider ways you might build a more equitable and anti-racist organization by examining your staff and board composition, culture, capabilities, and other internal resources.

Organizations who participate in Bridgespan Leadership Accelerator programs typically have 10 staff members. However, there are some exceptions. If you have a smaller team size and are interested in participating, please reach out to the Leadership Accelerator team to see if the programs might be a good fit.

Teams should be prepared to select a Project Lead who will serve as team lead and receive additional guidance from Bridgespan. 

The executive team, or senior leadership team, is typically the ED/CEO and senior direct reports. You might also include other individuals whose roles can provide unique insight to conversations about target outcomes and approach. If you enroll in the program, we will work with you to help you identify the right individuals to participate. If your executive team is larger than six individuals, please contact us at [email protected] to see if this program is the right fit. 

Team members should be prepared to:

  • Spend approximately one hour per week, for 8 to 18 weeks (depending on the program and your team’s pace), doing self-study and pre-work
  • Come together as a team every other week for approximately two hours to discuss key issues
  • In addition, you will designate one of your team members as the Project Lead. Their time commitment will be approximately an extra 12 to 15 hours throughout the duration of the program.

Space in our programs is limited. We will select organizations on a first-come, first-served basis, and base our selection on a mutual assessment of whether the program is the right fit for your organization. 

We have carefully designed this program such that your Project Lead can help your team navigate the content, make critical decisions, and advance through the process without intensive direct support from Bridgespan. However, teams do have access to Bridgespan support along the way. Project Leads can access 1-on-1 coaching on behalf of their teams, and they can attend weekly group office hours via conference call. In addition, Bridgespan provides ongoing email support and is available for additional coaching as necessary. 

The Project Lead serves as the glue that holds this learning experience together. The Project Lead’s time commitment will be an extra 12 to 15 hours over the full program.

Responsibilities include:

  • Owning the process: The Project Lead manages the work plan and meeting schedule for the project
  • Facilitating the conversation: During team meetings, the Project Lead will help to facilitate conversation, ensuring that all voices are heard and helping the group move towards decisions (drawing upon our unique video facilitated Team Summit process)
  • Who should be Project Lead: We typically recommend that EDs/CEOs do not serve as Project Leads due to the time required for the role. However, for the Strengthening the Executive Teams program in particular, there are some cases where it’s appropriate for the CEO/ED to play this role. Please reach out to us if you have questions as to who should be your Project Lead.

Important characteristics and qualifications of a Project Lead include:

  • Strong project management and meeting facilitation skills
  • Well-established and respected within the executive team
  • Reputation for getting things done, ready to put in a couple extra hours when necessary
  • Interest in the strategy related to the program topic area   
  • We typically recommend that EDs/CEOs do NOT serve as Project Leads, due to the time required to play the Project Lead role. However, for the Strengthening the Executive Teams program in particular, there are some cases where it’s appropriate for the CEO/ED to play this role. Please reach out to us if you have questions as to who should play this role

Limited scholarships may be available. If you do not have the funds to participate, please email us to learn if you may be eligible.

Scholarship Opportunities for Organizations Led by Leaders of Color
At the Bridgespan Group, we are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organization and the social sector more broadly. We believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical elements of a workplace culture that aligns with our values and leads to better work and solutions for our nonprofit and philanthropic clients. At the same time, we created the Leadership Accelerator as a way to bring critical team supports to many more organizations—and we do not want resources to be a barrier to participation.
For this reason, we’re excited to offer a limited number of scholarships to organizations led by people of color. Scholarships will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to organizations that are accepted into the program. We will do our best to provide some level of scholarship to as many organizations as possible. At this time, our scholarship opportunities are limited to organizations based in the United States.
These scholarships are intended for organizations for which the ED/CEO identify and/or a majority of the executive team identifies as Alaska Native or Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Black or African American, and/or Latinx.
If you are interested in learning more about our scholarships for organizations led by people of color, please reach out to us directly at [email protected].
Learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusion at Bridgespan, or email [email protected]

Current pricing is $10,000 for executive teams of up to six members. For organizations outside the United States, or those teams with more than six members, please contact us at [email protected]

Please visit our Requesting Leadership Accelerator Funding page for advice on how to solicit funding from your donors.  

Board members do not typically enroll as participants in our Leadership Accelerator programs. However, we recognize that it can be very valuable to bring your board along as you and your executive team work through critical strategy and organizational issues. We have explicit opportunities for teams to discuss together how to engage board members as a part of the Accelerator programs, and encourage teams to discuss board engagement with their coaches during coaching calls. 

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The Bridgespan Group would like to thank the JPB Foundation for its generous and ongoing support of our knowledge creation and sharing work.