The O2 Sabbatical Award honors the commitment and accomplishments of exceptional nonprofit leaders in San Francisco and Alameda Counties. Launched in 2014, and modeled on the highly successful Durfee Foundation Sabbatical Program in Los Angeles, the O2 Sabbatical Award supports a three-month break for executive directors.

Each year, O2 Initiatives will grant up to six awards to outstanding executive directors. Each award includes $40,000 to the awardee’s organization toward the cost of a three-month sabbatical, plus a $3,000 stipend for the interim leader (or leadership team) in recognition of the additional responsibilities assumed in the executive director’s absence.

O2 Initiatives also offers coaching in partnership with CompassPoint to help organizations prepare for the sabbatical, assist interim teams during the executive director’s leave, and provide support with re-entry and organizational learning once sabbaticals are completed.

In addition, awardees are invited to request up to $7,500 to support ongoing professional development within their organizations. This component of the grant is intended to provide each organization with seed funding to establish a Staff Professional Development Fund that they will continue to maintain as a ongoing line item in their budget.

The Value of a Sabbatical

Great nonprofit organizations are driven by dedicated, passionate executive directors. These leaders give tirelessly of themselves to further the missions of their organizations. They inspire their boards, their staffs, and the communities they serve.

Research and experience show that a sabbatical has the power to be a life-changing experience for leaders, as well as a transformational experience for the organizations they lead.

The O2 Sabbatical Award breathes new life into an organization by:

  • Revitalizing Executive Directors
    The stresses and demands of nonprofit leadership can take a toll on even the most energetic of executive directors. Intellectual, creative, emotional, and physical burnout pose a risk to the health of these individuals and the organizations they lead. A sabbatical rejuvenates these individuals so they may return to their organizations with renewed vigor and perspective. As a result, their organizations benefit from more innovative, effective, and sustainable leadership.
  • Strengthening leadership capacity throughout the organization
    Sabbaticals provide senior staff with an unparalleled opportunity to take on new responsibilities and learn new skills in the executive director’s absence, which ultimately creates a more robust organization. Executive directors often delegate greater authority to their senior teams upon returning from sabbaticals, thereby fostering shared leadership and deeper organizational commitment. Enhanced leadership capacity also extends to governance, as the sabbatical process presents a chance for unique planning and learning that cultivates more effective boards.
  • Creating a mutually supportive alumni network
    O2 Sabbatical Award recipients become part of the O2 Initiatives alumni network, a long-lasting peer group of outstanding leaders  collectively strengthening the sector through dialogue, collaboration, and mutual support.