Robin Hood Foundation Looks to Its Donors to Fill Nonprofit Jobs

Robin Hood Foundation is good at emptying financiers’ pockets to fight poverty in New York. Now it wants to help them part with their jobs too.

In September, the foundation will start training finance professionals with at least 10 years of experience for full-time senior positions at nonprofit organizations.

The program, called LeaderLink, originated from the difficulty Robin Hood grantees have had filling such roles, even as demand for performance has increased because of reporting requirements, organizational complexity and public scrutiny.

“The last few years, the high-profile financial problems of some high-profile nonprofits have highlighted the need for a competent financial person in these positions,” said Deborah Miller Sakellarios, a senior management consultant at Robin Hood.

Some donors and volunteers have already demonstrated interest in switching jobs, often asking staff for informational interviews, Sakellarios said.

So can a seasoned hedge-fund manager become a chief financial officer at an organization that runs food pantries in Queens?

“Some portfolio managers would be very well suited, some not at all,” said Cassie Scarano, chief executive officer of Commongood Careers, the executive search firm running LeaderLink. The jobs require strategic thinking and the ability to translate financial information for different audiences for different purposes, she said.

‘Past Platitudes’

Salaries range from $125,000 to $175,000 a year and max out at $250,000, according to Scarano. The pay may not deter Robin Hood candidates, she said.

“I hear a lot, ‘I’ve had a great run, I’ve made a lot of money, but I need more’” than financial wealth, Scarano said, adding that the program will push executives past platitudes and get them ready for day-to-day work at a nonprofit.

Applications will be accepted over the next few weeks, and a pilot class of 15 will soon begin a five-session course, including a unit on nonprofit accounting taught by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. A yearlong match with a mentor and job-search help are also part of the program.

Robin Hood is covering half the cost of the class, with participants paying $500.