I attended the Akolade conference last week in Sydney which focused on innovative business models for Not-For-Profits. There was approximately 200 attendees, some of whom made up the army of speakers, the remainder represented the broad cross-section that is the not-for-profit sector, from welfare to health and everything in-between. In a sector that is made up of over 600,000 not-for-profits, contributes 8% to GNP and employs 10% of the national workforce, given the current funding landscape and pace of change, I sort of expected more participants as the conference was rich with ideas both new and old, shared from vastly different perspectives.
I went there to learn and listen. There is so much happening, so much change and the pace of that change is quite alarming. What has worked effectively in the past seems to be less effective now and donors/partners want more from their alliance than just handing over a cheque. The way funding is sought and distributed has changed with more and more Not-For-Profits wanting to secure a more sustainable long term funding model rather than the 3 year cycle funding models of old. As millennials become the donors of the future, is a Gala Dinner still going to cut the mustard?
So what’s the answer and what should Not-For-Profits need to be doing to ensure long term sustainability?
Enter Innovative Business Models for Not-For-Profits… I came away armed with a bevy of ideas, great optimism and a bit clearer understanding of some of the issues and possible solutions for yet another sector that is facing major disruption. The sector is shifting and those who attended came to share their experiences as well as investigate where their own organisations need to focus in order to be viable moving forward. As an outsider looking in, the key take-aways were as follows:
- Data – Access to, management, manipulation, understanding and analysis of, and how to use that knowledge to target their activity
- Technology – Digital solutions, better use of technology to automate lower level time consuming roles of the past, building better efficiencies into operational models, the need to be mobile enabled, Apps to manage fundraising campaigns
- Communication – Shift to social media as a means to engage with millennial donors
- Scale – Building scalable social enterprises for maximum impact
- Different Funding Models – Crowd funding, Social Impact Bonds, impact investment, venture philanthropy, developing deep values based partnerships as a part of NFP strategy and business plan, SROI
- People – Ensuring that you have the ‘right people on the bus’, employing tech savvy talent
- Values – Not losing sight of values as ‘for purpose’ organisations on the journey to sustainability
- Innovative Thinking – From top down, thinking outside the box, appetites for risk
All-in-all, for me at least, a great couple of days trying to get a handle on just some of the challenges this sector is facing and how RRHR, as talent specialists in the sector, can provide people solutions to what the sector needs right now and for the future. This is such a dynamic sector, facing major challenges and that change is happening at a rate of knots. Having the right people on board to turn challenges into opportunities has never been more important for the sector. I, for one, look forward to many more opportunities to discuss new and innovative ideas for purpose organisations because it will be those forward thinking organisations who will be best positioned to attract the expertise that they need.
By Susie Rogers , Director, Rusher Rogers