CNE Sabbatical Case Study

As the CNE developed the concept of an executive sabbatical, we committed to transparency so that we could share our learning with other nonprofits. We solicited input from board, staff, and constituents to better understand the choices and challenges for considering and planning a sabbatical opportunity. We have used our research and experience to create a case study to inform your consideration of this potential opportunity for your organization. Should you decide to implement a sabbatical program, we hope the research and tools we share will support you in creating an effective approach, design, and implementation. While we offer this case study of an executive director sabbatical, we understand that sabbaticals can be an effective resource for any staff member of an organization.  

In many nonprofits, there is an ongoing need to find ways to revitalize staff to meet the challenging service demands of a nonprofit organization. Many staff work tirelessly to advance the mission and embody the heart of an organization. Unfortunately, staff can become so busy that they have little availability for creativity, planning, and wellness. Burnout, succession planning, and leadership training continue to be important issues for nonprofits. Sabbaticals are one tool that can reinvigorate your staff and bring unexpected value and energy to a nonprofit organization. Recent research indicates that offering a sabbatical can bring significant benefits such as staff loyalty, opportunity to explore specialized projects, leadership development, and new energy for your mission.

“I would encourage any organization that is considering a sabbatical for its ED or other key staff member to remember that, while the benefits for the person who is taking time away can be enormous and will likely have long-term benefits for the organization, there will also be nuanced circumstances informing any such decision that need to be considered and debated as fully and honestly as possible beforehand.”

Kakie Brooks, Current CNE Board Chair