Investing in Future Leaders

An online talent and leadership development program for nonprofit executive teams

Are your organization’s rising leaders prepared for what lies ahead?

Learn how leaders at Fresh Lifelines for Youth used Investing in Future Leaders to enhance their talent pipeline.

Your people spend every day dedicating their lives to having impact on your clients and your community. And as a leader, it’s your job to make sure that your future leaders are equipped for the challenges ahead and that they represent the communities with which you work. Developing these future leaders is not easy—it takes time, focus, and commitment from your entire senior leadership team. It also requires alignment on what great leadership looks like for your organization.

To guide you in this process, Bridgespan has developed Investing in Future Leaders, an online leadership development program to help you create an inclusive, customized talent development process for your organization. Informed by Bridgespan’s 20 years of experience working with nonprofit leaders, and guided by expert coaches, the program helps you identify emerging leaders and cultivate leadership from within.

Timing: August–December 2021
Deadline: Rolling admissions until full or June 15, 2021
Learn More


How Investing in Future Leaders Works


Team Workshops
Come together as a group for two hours every few weeks to discuss key issues
Total Hours: 12-18 (depending on team size)

Download a sample group exercise >>

Leadership Team Icon

Individual Online Lessons
Log onto our online platform and complete individual assignments before meeting as a team
Total Hours: 10-15

Download sample self-study and pre-work >>

Individual Lessons Icon

Coaching Support
Individual and group coaching offered for Project Leads and CEOs
Total Hours: Up to 20 hours of coaching available (includes trainings, office hours, and one-on-one coaching)

Download project lead role overview >>

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Investing in Future Leaders is an online, team-based program specifically designed for nonprofit leadership teams of three to six participants:

  • The program is self-paced to meet your team’s needs.
  • The program is structured around five steps, each of which combines online lessons, self-study, and team workshops facilitated by a virtual coach that ultimately lead to a customized talent development process for your organization.
  • On average, teams take 12 to 18 weeks to complete the program (roughly 25–30 hours per participant). Download a sample program calendar.
  • Your team is in the driver’s seat, but expert Bridgespan coaches provide support for your Project Lead via email, weekly check-ins, and one-on-one coaching at critical points throughout the program.

How Your Leadership Team Benefits

Investing in Future Leaders equips you and your leadership team with tools and a structured process to help you develop:

  • A set of organizational competencies that define what great leadership looks like at your organization,
  • Professional development plans for your staff that you can use immediately,
  • New ways to understand and mitigate bias when assessing staff, and
  • An action plan to implement talent development across the organization.

Why Do This Work as an Executive Team?

Leadership development is not just the work of the HR department or of individual managers. Having alignment as an executive team on leadership development ensures that all staff develop with a consistent and agreed upon set of priorities in mind, reducing bias and providing opportunity to all emerging leaders. Also, having these conversations as a team can help build connections and strengthen dynamics within an executive team. Finally, having the full team collaborate in this way allows senior leaders to support one another in crafting development plans for emerging leaders within the organization.

Should Your Nonprofit Leadership Team Participate?

Investing in Future Leaders is best suited for organizations that:

  • Have recently completed a strategic planning process and want to make sure they have the talent to deliver on that strategy,
  • Are preparing to experience growth or expansion,
  • Have leadership team members who are looking to build their talent development skills, or
  • Want to ensure an inclusive and equitable approach to talent development.

Note that the program is designed for executive teams and requires a time commitment of 25 to 30 hours per team member over a period of 12 to 18 weeks.

Nonprofits That Have Participated in Investing in Future Leaders

North York Community House (Toronto)
Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver
Fresh Lifelines for Youth
Hivos People Unlimited
Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta
Trees Atlanta
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago
Girls Inc. of Long Island
Children's Institute, Inc.
New York Community House
New Vista
Prevent Blindness Texas

What Our Alumni Have to Say About Investing in Future Leaders

Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY)

"The program really pushed us to think critically about not only what our current emerging leaders need in order to grow as professionals, but also about the qualities we need in our future leaders for the organization to realize its vision for growth."—Ali Knight, Chief Operating Officer, Fresh Lifelines for Youth

Christa Gannon

The founder and CEO of Fresh Lifelines for Youth describes her team's experience with Investing in Future Leaders.

Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Kathy Co Chin, the president and CEO of the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), and Edward Tepporn, APIAHF's executive vice president, describe their organization's experience with Investing in Future Leaders.

Program Curriculum

  • Step 1: Reflecting on Future Leadership Needs

    • Team Summit activities: As a team, you will reflect on how you currently do talent development. You’ll also think about how leadership in your organization will need to evolve in order to achieve your strategic goals. Finally, you’ll start to think about how you’ll communicate about this program with others in your organization.
    • Pre-Summit assignments: To prepare for the Team Summit, you’ll each reflect on your organization’s strengths and weaknesses regarding talent development. You’ll reflect individually on your organization’s strategic priorities and how talent in your organization will need to change over time.
  • Step 2: Identifying Core and Leadership Competencies

    • Team Summit Activities: As a team, you will align on a set of “core” and ‘leadership” competencies, which will drive your development process as an organization. As you do this, you’ll want to refer back to your Milestone 1 Team Summit, where you reflected as a team on what leadership will need to look like in order to achieve your strategic goals.
    • Pre-Summit assignments: To prepare for the Team Summit you will learn about what competencies are, and then you’ll individually nominate the competencies that you think should be on your team’s starter list. (These nominations will be a key input to the Team Summit.)
    To learn more about Bridgespan's thinking around competencies, read our article, "A Framework for Great Nonprofit Leadership."
  • Step 3: Identifying Development Priorities for Direct Reports

    • Team Summit activities: In this milestone, you will identify development priorities for two direct reports. During the Summit you will share with your team members the development priorities you’ve identified in the Pre-Summit work for two direct reports. You will together as a team to calibrate to make sure everyone is using the competencies in the same way.
    • Pre-Summit assignments: To prepare for the Team Summit, you will learn how to use your competencies to assess your direct reports (while actively mitigating against bias) and then you’ll identify two to three development priorities for each direct report based on this assessment. If you have many direct reports, you may chose to do this for just two of them.
  • Step 4: Crafting Development Activities for Direct Reports

    • Team Summit Activities: In this milestone, you will use the development priorities that you’ve identified to craft development plans for two direct report using the 70/20/10 principle. In the Team Summit, you’ll share these development activities with your team members and help one another to improve your plans. You’ll also identify places where your team and organization may need to invest to provide development opportunities to your staff.
    • Pre-Summit assignments: To prepare for the Team Summit you will learn about the 70/20/10 principle and see examples of development plans. Then you’ll craft development activities for two of your direct reports, which you’ll prepare to share at the Team Summit.
    To learn more about Bridgespan’s approach to professional development planning, check out our article, “How to Build Competency-Based Professional Development Plans.”  
  • Step 5: Preparing to Co-Create Development Plans with your Direct Reports

    • Team Summit activities: Now that you have crafted draft development plans for your direct reports, you’ll start to refine these drafts in partnership with your direct reports. (We call this “co-creation.”) In the Team Summit, you will debrief initial conversations you each will have with your direct report before the Summit. As your team debriefs, you’ll surface potential challenges that might arise in the co-creation process. You will also start to chart a path for the next months of this work, outlining key milestones and activities to which you want to hold yourselves accountable.
    • Pre-Summit assignments: Each team member will hold an initial context-setting conversation with your direct reports, to start to introduce them to this way of doing development planning. You’ll also start to prepare for subsequent conversations you’ll have with each report, where you’ll share the draft development plans you’ve started to create. Each team member will also start thinking about the path forward, and this will be an important input to the Team Summit conversation.
Download the Investing in Future Leaders Curriculum

Investing in Future Leaders Coaches

Preeta Nayak Leadership CoachPreeta Nayak is a partner in Bridgespan's San Francisco office, leads Bridgespan's programs for nonprofit leadership teams. Preeta has worked with hundreds of nonprofit executives to develop customized approaches to team and organizational growth. She coauthored the book, Nonprofit Leadership Development: What's Your "Plan A" for Growing Future Leaders?, to share best practices on talent and leadership development. Every day, Preeta is impressed by the ingenuity and commitment of the nonprofit leaders she supports, and she loves helping them create work environments where they and their successors can grow and thrive.


Barb Christiansen Leadership CoachBarbara Christiansen has worked with many nonprofits to strengthen their approach to talent and leadership development, primarily through Bridgespan's Leading for Impact Program in Atlanta and Washington, DC. Additional experience in nonprofit strategy and management has given her an understanding of the challenges facing many nonprofits as they seek to grow their impact while retaining and developing a strong team. Barbara has seen the positive changes that come when organizations commit to staff development and she is excited to continue this work with the Investing in Future Leaders cohorts!

Important Information


  • Price: $7,500
  • Limited time price: $5,500 for leadership teams of three to six members. For organizations outside of the United States, or for teams with more than six members, please email us.

A limited number of scholarships are also available to organizations led by people of color. Learn More>>

Need help funding your participation? Learn more about how to request funding from your donors.

How to Enroll Your Team

To ensure the program is right for you, fill out this form to set up a 30-minute consultation with a Leadership Accelerator team member. You’ll hear back from us within seven days. During the consultation, we’ll learn more about your organization and leadership team, and we’ll share more about the Accelerator program. If we jointly determine that the program is a good fit, we’ll share details for how to officially enroll. We look forward to meeting you!

Still Have Questions? Read our list of Frequently Asked Questions

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We appreciate your interest in our Leadership Accelerator programs. Please note that these programs are for nonprofit executive teams and not for individuals.

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The Leadership Accelerator is a series of online programs designed for nonprofit executive teams. To date, more than 100 nonprofit organizations have participated in our Accelerator programs. Learn more about our other Leadership Accelerator programs here.