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New Study Shows Value of Sabbaticals for Nonprofit Leaders, Organizations

New study: Nonprofit executive sabbaticals improve organizational capacity

Anchorage, January 22, 2010 - Executive director sabbaticals can strengthen nonprofit organizations, according to a new report jointly released today by the Alston/Bannerman Fellowship Program; the Barr Foundation; the Durfee Foundation; the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund; the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust; and Rasmuson Foundation. The report, Creative Disruption: Sabbaticals for Capacity Building and Leadership Development in the Nonprofit Sector, finds that sabbaticals can be "a relatively inexpensive but highly productive capacity-building tool that yields measurable results."

The report exposes the myth that an executive sabbatical will be a chaotic disruption, finding instead that the creative disruption of a well-planned sabbatical can be productive for the entire leadership of an organization. This finding is surprising to many, says Claire Peeps of the Durfee Foundation: "One of the things we hear is 'I could never go to my board with a sabbatical request.' But we've learned from 10 years of funding sabbaticals that they can improve the long-term health of a nonprofit organization."

Key findings from Creative Disruption include:
· Sabbaticals can be an opportunity for the second tier of leadership to gain new skills and take on new responsibilities

· The "dry-run" of a sabbatical can be a best practice in succession planning

· Executive directors who went on sabbatical were more likely to extend their tenure, not cut it short

· Sixty percent of survey respondents said their board of directors is more effective as a result of the planning and learning that went into the sabbatical

· The majority of leaders who went on sabbatical reported better relationships with staff, board, funders, and community

· Eighty-seven percent of the leaders who responded report increased confidence in doing their jobs

· Funders benefited from feedback and innovative ideas from executive directors who went on sabbaticals, gaining a deeper perspective on community needs

The five organizations that commissioned the report together have funded more than 325 sabbaticals for nonprofit executives over the past 10 years. Investigators from Third Sector New England and CompassPoint Nonprofit Services surveyed and interviewed sabbatical awardees and the managers who served as interim or acting executive directors during the sabbaticals.

About the Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical Program
The Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical Program is designed to provide time away from the job for nonprofit and tribal leaders to engage in activities for personal renewal or professional growth.  The award is for the personal growth or renewal of the applicant and may include support for travel, study, time for reflection, or simply rest. Awards will support sabbaticals of a minimum of 60 continuous and a maximum of 180 continuous days. The annual postmark deadline for Sabbatical applications is October 1. More information and guidelines are available here, and nonprofit leaders can be nominated for a sabbatical here. Rasmuson Foundation expects to award up to eight sabbaticals for the 2011 cohort.

About the Foundation
The Rasmuson Foundation was created in May 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband "E.A." Rasmuson. Through grantmaking and initiatives, the Foundation is a catalyst to promote a better life for all Alaskans.

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