Media Release: Turbo boost for non-profit CEOs thanks to homegrown leadership program

Australia’s most comprehensive program for the for-purpose sector is making an impact, helping fill a historic chasm between the corporate sector and not-for-profits by providing world-class professional development to take these crucial organisations further.

Around $3.6 billion is spent by commercial corporations on employee training and development in Australia each year, while the domestic not-for-profit sector suffers from a profound absence of professional development.

The Social Impact Leadership Australia (SILA) program, created by the Centre for Social Impact, has stepped into this gap by offering 120 CEOs from not-for-profit organisations a rare, fully-funded opportunity for tailored learning and professional development. The program is jointly funded by four of Australia’s major foundations: the Myer Foundation, the Sidney Myer Fund, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, and the Paul Ramsay Foundation.

The program aims to strengthen the entire for-purpose sector by enhancing the wellbeing and effectiveness of leaders, advancing organisational capability and building a network of system thinkers. NFP leaders from South Australia and Western Australia will have their first chance to apply for the program from March 20th.

Offering each CEO one-on-one coaching, peer-to-peer learning and leadership diagnostics, as well as a first-of-its-kind sabbatical, enrolment in the course would normally cost more than $80,000 per delegate. This includes over $30,000 of untied capacity funding provided to each CEO to meet the needs of their organisation.

Evaluation of the $9.6 million program, which has been completed by almost 50 NFP CEOs so far, shows it is achieving strong results, with all participants agreeing their organisation has or is likely to experience tangible improvements due to their participation. The program received a strong net promoter score of 86 out of 100, which is a world class result.[3]

The independent evaluation by the Nous Group also found that 95% of participants said they could draw upon what they learnt in the program to make a difference in their organisations and across the sector, and that CEOs now intended to invest in their teams’ leadership and professional development.

The Centre for Social Impact CEO, Arminé Nalbandian, said the program was taking leadership to the next level, ultimately delivering greater social impact across the non-profit sector. 

“We can’t tackle Australia’s complex social problems in siloes,” she said. “This program unites social impact leaders, arming them with the tools to deliver meaningful social change beyond the parameters of their own organisation.”  

Women’s Community Shelters CEO Annabelle Daniel, who recently graduated from the SILA program, said the experience had broadened her leadership skills but was also more than ‘just a development program’, as she stayed in touch with fellow CEOs and received ongoing coaching.

“Now I have new ways of thinking and skills to deploy in supporting some of the 56,000 Australian women who are currently experiencing homelessness every single night,” Ms Daniel said. “Everything was highly relevant to our work and challenges.

“SILA fills a really unique space. This program is a rare chance for leaders in our sector to learn new skills so we can help our organisations achieve more and have greater impact across Australia. Building a strong network of peers and having that ongoing ‘brains trust’ to tap into is so valuable, as we all face similar challenges.”

Delivered by the Centre for Social Impact, a national collaboration of four of Australia’s leading universities, the SILA program is fully supported by major philanthropic foundations. Their generous contributions mean every year for five years, 24 for-purpose CEOs from around Australia will be selected for an accredited 10-month executive education course at no cost.

Ms Nalbandian said the comprehensive development program is also a shining example of how Australia’s unique social impact landscape was best supported by locally-based education providers.

“As a homegrown professional development program, but at a world-class level, this work is building an important legacy. The impact of this program will be felt for years as we foster an environment where like-minded, local leaders can lean on each other and benefit from peer-to-peer learning that ultimately enriches and benefits the entire system.”

Applications for leaders based in WA and SA open on March 20, 2023.  

Media enquiries:
Pia Akerman 0412346746