Sabbatical Program FAQs

What is a sabbatical?
A sabbatical is a three to six month period during which nonprofit leaders take a leave of absence from the organizations at which they work. Sabbatical recipients use this time to engage in non-professional development activities of their own choosing to aid in personal renewal and growth. While on sabbatical, award recipients travel, study, read, reflect, rest, and/or explore interests unrelated to their field of work. Sabbatical funds may be spent in any way that leads to the rejuvenation and self-revitalization of the nonprofit leaders who participate in the program.
What is the purpose of the Sabbatical Program?
Sabbaticals offer individuals the opportunity to primarily focus on their personal needs and solely devote themselves to self-revitalization. The awarded compensation provides the financial support necessary to temporarily leave one’s place of employment. It is the Foundation’s hope that sabbatical recipients return recommitted to the challenges and rewards of public service and thus prolong their tenure in the not-for-profit sector.
Who should apply?
Individuals in paid, full-time executive level positions, who have served their North Carolina nonprofit organizations for at least three years (two of which in an executive level position), are eligible to apply for a sabbatical. For the 2021-2022 Sabbatical application year, the Foundation is allowing applications from eligible applicants who are experiencing a reduction in work due to COVID-19, but have still worked at least 35 hours/week (full-time) during the 24 months prior to March 2020 and have been employed with the same organization for the past three years. Preference is given to individuals with at least five years of experience with their organization. This program is not intended for public school, college, university or government employees, hospital administrators or full-time clergy.
Am I eligible for a sabbatical if my organization is based in North Carolina, but serves multiple areas?
If the organization serves the people of North Carolina (even if it also serves people of other states), and is based in this state, you are eligible for a sabbatical.
How many sabbaticals are offered?
The Foundation currently awards up to five sabbaticals every other year, though numbers may vary from year to year.
When do I have to start my sabbatical?
If you are awarded a sabbatical for 2022, the sabbatical must begin before April 2023.
How much financial support is included with each sabbatical award?
The awarded compensation ($30,000) and $10,000 to each organization for planning and transition expenses, provides the financial support necessary for sabbatical recipients to temporarily leave their place of employment. Please note: Of the $10,000, at least $5,000 must go toward activities that will enhance the recipient's entire organization. For example, staff retreats, team building exercises, mentoring opportunities, and/or other activities to support the staff.
What are the requirements for receipt of the award?
The sabbatical must begin before April of the year after selection and last for one continuous period of three to six months. Recipients are expected to be released completely from their organizational obligations during their sabbatical and to return to their organizations for at least the same length of time as their sabbatical. Awards are subject to federal and state income taxes. Recipient organizations decide whether to continue to keep sabbatical recipients on their payroll during their time away. Regardless of this decision, the entire award amount will be paid to the recipient. Those selected must attend one and a half-day pre-sabbatical and post-sabbatical retreats. Recipients are expected to write a two- to three-page typed final report, describing his or her sabbatical experience, by one month after completion of the sabbatical. This should be sent to LaRita Bell at
How does an organizational leader apply?
The application is now entirely online. The link is posted every other year when the application process opens. The next application deadline will be in Fall 2023.
How are selections made?
Initial applications are screened by a Selection Committee composed of representatives of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation’s Board of Trustees, staff, former Advisory Panel members and former sabbatical recipients. Ten finalists are selected to meet with the Committee in January/February either virtually or in person and award recipients are announced in February. The selection criteria include the accomplishments of the applicant, evidence of need for a sabbatical, the applicant’s potential for future contributions in his/her chosen field of work, and the difficulty of the applicant’s work environment. In addition, selections are based on the applicant’s timely completion of the application form and related information, the sabbatical description as it relates to personal renewal and professional growth, and the sabbatical budget. Applicants who are not selected for a sabbatical are invited and encouraged to reapply in subsequent years.
Is the budget I submit with my application binding?
Budgets submitted with sabbatical applications are not binding but should represent your planned sabbatical activities as accurately as possible.
What should I do if I cannot determine exact costs for budget items?
Please estimate the costs of individual budget items as best as you can.
What should I do if I am having technical difficulties with the online application?
Please contact Beth Priddy at or call 336-725-7541, ext. 109.
Updated November 2022