Harvard Grads Subsidized to Take Nonprofit Jobs: Good, Bad or Irrelevant?

Harvard Grads Subsidized to Take Nonprofit Jobs: Good, Bad or Irrelevant?

By Eugene Fram

According to the May 31, 2013 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, the Harvard Business School Leadership Fellows Program, a special MBA program, supplements its grads’ beginning nonprofit salaries of $45,000 with another $50,000. Over the last 13 years only 106 students have been placed with a total of 47 organizations. However, the 19 grads in the 2013 group is the largest one ever.

Is this a “canary in the mine” singing about coming changes in the backgrounds needed for nonprofit management?

I think leaders of nonprofits should pay significant attention to the singing canary in this situation because:
• Harvard University has been active in nonprofit management education for decades.
• The university itself has an unassailable brand image.
• Nonprofit management has become more complex in the 21st century.
• The 71 grads, out of 106 who appear to be staying in the nonprofit arena long-term, become role models for others who have equivalent degrees from other institutions.
• Middle level nonprofit managers can begin to acquire the MBA in large numbers and view it as a tool for promotion.

What do you think? Good, Bad or Irrelevant? Comments are welcomed.


  1. Hmmm… It depends on the value they bring to the organization. Harvard is helping their grads get a foot in the door with nonprofits at a competitive price point.

    I like the fact that the retention level has been very good for these former Harvard students after the first year. It means that the organizations are getting enough value that they are interested in retaining their services beyond the first year. Similarly it means the work is interesting and compelling enough that the students want to continue.

    So far it seems like a win – win – for Harvard, the Nonprofits and the former Harvard students.

    Will make an interesting longitudinal study say five or ten years from now.


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