New leadership program for Australian not-for-profits


Written by: Centre for Social Impact

Four major Australian foundations have announced that they will be collaborating to create a national capacity-building and leadership program for current leaders in Australian not-for-profit (NFP) organisations.

The Social Impact Leadership Australia program (SILA) is a five-year, $9 million program, and will be delivered by the Centre for Social Impact (CSI).

The Myer Foundation, the Sidney Myer Fund, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and the Paul Ramsay Foundation have collaborated to fund SILA and in doing so unlock leadership potential to improve the wellbeing of Australians.

The program was created by a collective desire to support NFP leaders to build their capacity, positively influence their organisations, and create a strategic network of NFP leaders across the country.

Leonard Vary, CEO of The Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund, said that the idea stemmed from the recognition of a damaging and persistent lack of investment in the leadership of the NFP sector in Australia.

“We’re inspired by the success of programs in the United States, supported by foundations which see the value of investment in building the capacity of NFP leaders.” Mr Vary said.

“Beyond mere professional development, SILA is a powerful way to influence whole organisations, while ensuring the next tier of leaders is ready to take the reins and lead for social impact.”

Jo Taylor, Chief Capability Officer of the Paul Ramsay Foundation, has added: “Our investment in SILA is a reflection of the Foundation’s long-term commitment to building the capability of the not-for-profit sector. We are excited to work with our peers to cultivate strong leaders in the sector and ultimately amplify the impact of their work.”

One third of participants for the program will be drawn from rural and regional areas, a focus that Jenny Wheatley, CEO of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation said was “exciting and important”.

“It is critical that we develop a truly national program. By broadening our reach in this way, we are ensuring we will be available to a diverse group of leaders and organisations from across Australia.” Mrs Wheatley added.

The program will be delivered by the Centre for Social Impact, a leader in social impact education.  Professor Kristy Muir, CEO of CSI described the program as “visionary” and applauded the collaboration.

“We know that people are an organisation’s most important asset, and we know that there is persistent underinvestment in the professional development of NFP leaders.” Professor Muir said.

“This program helps change that. We’re incredibly honoured that CSI has been selected to create and deliver this ground-breaking program and can’t wait to work with the first cohort of NFP leaders.”

The cutting-edge program design is based on international best practice and covers leadership of the self, the organisation, and the system. SILA includes a series of immersive learning experiences, a tailored sabbatical, one-on-one coaching, and dedicated organisational capacity building support. The curriculum is delivered during three retreats by a faculty of leading academics and practitioners.


The Centre for Social Impact is a collaboration of three universities: UNSW Sydney, Swinburne University of Technology, The University of Western Australia. CSI was established through the Australian government, four founding corporate supporters and four philanthropic contributions.

The purpose of CSI is to catalyse positive social change, to help enable others to achieve social impact. CSI do this this through transformational research and education that is rigorous, and purpose driven.

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