I work for an organization that is not headquartered in San Francisco, Alameda County, or Contra Costa County. Can I apply for the O2 Sabbatical Award?
No. The O2 Sabbatical Award is limited to applicants whose organizations are headquartered in San Francisco, Alameda County, or Contra Costa County.
My organization is located in San Francisco, Alameda County, and/or Contra Costa County, but we serve communities outside our county. Can I apply for the O2 Sabbatical Award?
Yes. As long as your organization is headquartered in San Francisco, Alameda County, or Contra Costa County, you are eligible to apply.
My organization is located in San Francisco, Alameda County and/or Contra Costa County, but I live outside of these three counties. Am I eligible?
To be eligible, you must be a full-time resident of the nine-county Bay Area region. The Bay Area’s nine counties include Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma.
I work for a very small nonprofit organization. Am I eligible?
We do not require that organizations fall within a particular budget size to be eligible for the O2 Sabbatical Award. Leaders of small nonprofit organizations are eligible, as long as there is strong senior management in place and at least five (preferably more) full-time, paid staff including the executive director. Applicants must demonstrate that their organization can carry on its work at a consistent level during the executive director’s absence.
I work for a very large nonprofit organization. Am I eligible?
Although we do not require that organizations fall within a particular budget size to be eligible for the O2 Sabbatical Award, the program requires that organizations receiving the sabbatical grant demonstrate financial need to underwrite the leave. Organizations with very large budgets are at a disadvantage in the selection process.
I am the director of a nonprofit school. Can I apply?
No. The program is not open to applicants working at schools or in government.
I am a senior staff member of my organization, but I’m not the executive director. Can I apply?
No. The O2 Sabbatical Award is designed specifically for executive leaders.
I have had a successful run as the executive director of my organization, and I am thinking of what my next career move might be. Can I apply?
The O2 Sabbatical Award is designed to provide leaders with a much-needed break so that they can return to their organizations with renewed energy. We realize, of course, that there are natural transitions in an individual’s career path and in the life of a nonprofit organization. However, we ask that people who are actively contemplating job transitions not apply for the award.
I will be retiring in the foreseeable future. Am I eligible?
The program is targeted to attract nonprofit leaders who will dedicate themselves to nonprofit work for years to come. As such, we respectfully ask those who are planning to retire or move out of the nonprofit sector not to apply for the O2 Sabbatical Award.
Questions About Program Structure, Guidelines and Requirements
When will you begin accepting applications for your next award cycle?
O2 Initiatives is currently inviting applications for the O2 Sabbatical Award. The deadline for application submission is 5:00 pm PDT on Wednesday, August 17, 2022.
How many awards are granted?
O2 Initiatives grants an average of six awards per selection cycle.
What are the components of the grant award?
Grants will be made to awardees’ organizations and include the following components:
- Sabbatical Funding: $50,000
- Each award includes $50,000 toward the cost of the sabbatical. Funds are intended to help replace the executive director’s salary and benefits for three months, and to cover costs associated with their sabbatical experience (e.g. travel expenses, retreat costs).
- Staff Professional Development and Interim Leadership Stipends: $15,000
- The award also includes $15,000 in flexible funding to support staff professional development, as well as stipends for the interim leadership team in recognition of the additional responsibilities they will assume in the executive director’s absence.
- Organizations will determine how best to allocate these funds based on their particular needs and resources and in consultation with their sabbatical coach. Examples of how organizations might allocate these funds:
- Providing a salary increase to interim leadership team members for the three months of the executive director’s absence
- Supporting individual professional development opportunities, such as leadership workshop fees
- Supporting team-building or group professional development opportunities
- Supporting an extension of the 25 hours of coaching already included in the O2 sabbatical award (see below) to further leverage post-sabbatical learning
- Organizational Coaching: 25 hours
- O2 offers 25 hours of coaching to help organizations prepare for the sabbatical, advise interim leadership teams during the executive director’s leave, provide support with re-entry, and achieve organizational development goals (e.g., greater shared leadership, succession planning)
- O2 partners with a team of independent coaches, each of whom have deep experience with organizational development, transition and succession planning, and sabbaticals specifically. Awardees can choose to work with any of these O2 partner coaches, or with a coach of their own choosing.
How does O2 help organizations prepare for sabbatical and make the most of the sabbatical experience?
O2 helps organizations have successful sabbatical experiences by providing:
- Orientation – Shortly after awards are made, O2 facilitates a half-day orientation for executive directors and leadership teams designed as a kick-off to sabbatical planning. The agenda includes a panel with O2 alumni (executive directors and interim leaders), breakout sessions facilitated by O2 coaches, and plenty of time for Q&A.
- Coaching – The O2 Sabbatical Award includes 25 hours of of coaching to help organizations prepare for the sabbatical, advise interim leadership teams during the executive director’s leave, provide support with re-entry, and achieve organizational development goals (e.g., greater shared leadership, succession planning)
- Peer Support – Each executive director and team will also be matched with O2 alumni for informal support and guidance before, during, and after sabbatical.
When can I take my sabbatical?
Awardees have up to 12 months following award notification to begin their sabbatical. The next cohort of awardees will be notified of their awards in February 2023 and will be expected to begin their sabbaticals by February 2024 (meaning that the latest they could take the sabbatical is February-April 2024).
We strongly recommend that awardees allocate at least 4-6 months of planning time before beginning sabbatical. This would mean beginning sabbatical no sooner than June 2023.
My organization can’t spare me for a full three months. Can I apply for a shorter sabbatical? Or can I break my sabbatical into two shorter segments?
No. The purpose of the O2 Sabbatical Award is to provide leaders with a true break from their work, which is why we require the sabbatical to be at least three consecutive months in length. While we appreciate the challenges this may present for the organization, we believe that a strong nonprofit can adequately prepare for – and manage through – the leader’s absence.
In fact, the sabbatical provides other members of the senior management team the unparalleled opportunity to take on new responsibilities and learn new skills in the executive director’s absence. This capacity-building component is an intentional goal of the O2 Sabbatical Award, and we will provide all awardees and their organizations with coaching and support before, during, and after the sabbatical.
Do I really need to cease all contact with my organization while I’m away on sabbatical?
YES—except, of course, under extreme circumstances.* The core premises of the sabbatical are: (1) to give executive directors the freedom they need to truly spend time away from their jobs, and (2) to empower senior management to lead in the executive director’s absence. We know that ceasing all contact may be daunting, but sabbatical alumni (O2 and our peer programs) consistently agree that it is critical to achieve the full impact for executive directors and their organizations.
* As part of the planning for sabbatical, organizations will define what “extreme circumstances” mean for their organization so that there is a shared understanding among the executive director, staff, and board.
What about my other professional commitments, like the boards and committees I sit on? Will I need to cease those activities during my sabbatical, as well?
Yes. Since a core premise of the sabbatical is to give executive directors a true break from work, we expect awardees to cease all professional activities during their sabbatical.
Our organization would like to hire an outside consultant to take over my duties as Interim Director during my sabbatical. Is that acceptable?
No. A core component of the O2 Sabbatical Award program is that an existing senior staff member, or a team of senior staff members, assume leadership in the executive director’s absence.
How should awardees use their sabbatical time?
Awardees should use their sabbatical time in any way that best helps them recharge and reenergize. We encourage awardees to travel someplace they’ve always dreamed of visiting, spend time with family and loved ones, revisit old hobbies, or explore new interests.
I would like to use my sabbatical for professional development. Can I do that?
No. While we recognize that nonprofit leaders rarely have the time to participate in professional development programs, the O2 Sabbatical Award is intended to support a true break from work. For that reason, we do not allow awardees to use the sabbatical for professional development.
What are the reporting requirements for awardees?
Awardees are asked to submit a brief, informal report within two months of completing their sabbatical.