Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

May 22, 2013

There’s a coach for that? How professional coaching can contribute to nonprofit success

Special to Philanthropy Journal

Sackeena Gordon-Jones

When the topic of “coaching” comes up, many people think about the leaders of successful sports teams. The type of coaching that the International Coach Federation (ICF) supports, though, is a little different. We take the same concepts surrounding these highly trained and skilled professionals and transfer them to a wide range of organizations and individuals seeking guidance to reach their goals.

This week’s observation of International Coaching Week is designed to raise awareness of how professional coaching helps people increase their productivity, attain their goals and lead more fulfilling lives. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has even issued a statewide proclamation officially the occasion.

The ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients, including nonprofit organizations and personnel, in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaching is a distinct service and differs greatly from therapy, consulting, mentoring or training.

Individuals who engage in a coaching relationship can expect to experience fresh perspectives on personal challenges and opportunities, enhanced thinking and decision-making skills, enhanced interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence in carrying out their chosen work and life roles.

For business, coaching from a certified professional can help executive leadership set company goals, formulate a plan for achieving those goals, work with employees to cut the clutter and improve overall culture and more.

With nonprofit organizations, these same initiatives can be achieved, always keeping the people served by the nonprofit at the forefront. With budgest and personnel being tight for many nonprofit organizations, coaching may seem out of reach. We believe, however, that coaching should be accessible to all who need and can benefit from the carefully structured and informed guidance of professional coaches.

To this end, the ICF-Raleigh Area Chapter has launched an initiative to extend the benefit of professional coaching to nonprofit organizations on a pro bono basis. Our goals for the nonprofit organizations we assist are:

 ● Providing a meaningful way for our member coaches to give back in our communities;

 ● Providing exposure to the experience of coaching to those who could benefit the most, but may be able to afford it the least, and

 ● Raise awareness of the value and benefits of ICF and professional coaching for leaders and organizations.
We recognize that different nonprofits have varying needs based on the communities they serve. Though ICF members are available to help in a variety of ways, here are some of the common areas covered in these coaching relationships:

 ● Burnout prevention and stress management

 ● Leadership and interpersonal skills

 ● Clarifying the nonprofit mission/vision

 ● Decision-making, both for organizational and volunteer goals

 ● Team-building and motivation

 ● Life and career transitions, including moving from the business to nonprofit sector

 ● Creating balance between professional and personal lives of nonprofit employees and volunteers
Through working with nonprofits to provide them with professional coaching, we seek to help them devise a strategy to achieve goals, raise awareness of their organization and the services provided, expand their reach, build public goodwill and more. Most of all, we want nonprofits to become stronger and enhance their mission and vision through professional coaching.

Remember, there is a coach out there for any nonprofit organization, whether local, national, dealing with the arts, medicine, children – you name it, there is a coach for that! After all, nonprofit organizations serve the public in a variety of ways, and we want to serve them in a way that is accessible to all.

If you are interested in coaching for your nonprofit, please visit the ICF-Raleigh Area Chapter website at, email Sackeena Gordon-Jones at You can follow the organization on Twitter at @IFC_RAC, on Facebook at or on LinkedIn at Nonprofit leaders that are members of the NC Center for Nonprofits can also request the service by using the online application on the Center’s website.

Sackeena Gordon-Jones is the president of the International Coach Federation-Raleigh Area Chapter. With more than 20 years of corporate experience, she has held numerous roles including strategic advisor, leadership development consultant, corporate coach and director of Global Learning and Development at SAS. She now provides executive and personal coaching in a private practice while serving as director of the Business Coaching Program at NC State University.

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