The Talent Initiative
Talent Initiative is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the social sector’s perception and practice of human capital management. In pursuit of this mission, Talent Initiative works on thought-leadership strategies across the sector and provides capacity-building services to innovative nonprofits in order to help them become more efficient, effective, scalable and sustainable. At the core of these efforts is the belief that improving human capital management is essential for nonprofits to achieve their potential for social impact.
For Talent Initiative, “human capital” refers to all of the people who work directly to help an organization advance its mission, including employees in the field and managers in the office, as well as consultants, volunteers, board members, supporters, and community members. Similarly, “human capital management” represents a theory of change about how people can be positioned to achieve their full potential for impact and, as such, includes all efforts to recruit, hire, support, manage, develop, advance, and retain human capital.
The launch of Talent Initiative in early 2010 coincides with a tremendous opportunity for high-impact nonprofits across the country. Emerging from one of the worst economic downturns in history, a wide range of funders has recently targeted their support on innovative and results-oriented nonprofits. As more foundations move toward a “growth capital investor” model and an increasing number of corporations seek out “signature partnerships” with national nonprofits, so too has the federal government positioned itself behind social entrepreneurs through the creation of programs such as the Investing in Innovation Fund (I3) and the Social Innovation Fund (SIF).
To successfully leverage these and other opportunities, however, nonprofits must be able to recruit sufficient numbers of talented individuals, position those individuals for success by utilizing proven management systems, and purposefully align their organizational cultures with their strategic goals. Talent Initiative was created to help nonprofits develop their capacity for human capital management so that they will ultimately be better positioned to seize opportunities for increasing program scale, results and impact.
Talent Initiative’s program model is an intensive, cohort-based, organizational fellowship. Leveraging an individualized and hands-on approach with each organizational participant (“Fellow”), the program’s stated goals are to help high-potential nonprofits: (1) establish an organization-wide philosophy about the role and importance of human capital; (2) evaluate all areas of human capital management against the organization’s strategic plan; (3) develop a comprehensive human capital plan for leveraging world-class management practices and addressing areas in need of improvement; and (4) build the internal capacity to implement that plan over time.