The charities/not-for-profit sector is complex and must navigate ever changing public expectations. Despite this, it remains a pillar of Australian society with more than four in five Australians giving to charities/not-for-profit organisations (82%).
The pace of change can, at times, feel overwhelming and leave leaders uncertain of their next step. The first step to responding to change, however, is to be aware of it. It is important to take the time to understand the levels of trust Australian givers place in charities/not-for-profit organisations, to be aware of what it takes to rebuild trust and glean from those who have gone before. This research explores some of the key trends affecting the sector today including social licence, trust and the rise of commercial organisations operating for purpose and profit.
To position an organisation for future success, it is not just awareness of the trends but responding to them that is important.
Simplification of mission is critical
To help organisations achieve their ultimate purpose there needs to be clarity around the mission. Charities/not-for-profit organisations often have complex problems to solve with limited resources. If they are not careful, charities/not-for-profits can be pulled in more directions than their resources allow. To remain true to the mission, requests to the organisation should be put through a filter: ‘will this help us achieve our purpose?’
“We try to avoid [being pulled in all directions], by constantly saying, ‘will this action, will this initiative, help us feed more people?’”
Sarah Pennell – General Manager & Company Secretary, Foodbank
Move from complexity to simplicity
Once the mission is clear, a leader’s key role is to reduce complexity and increase simplicity within the organisation. Simplification of the mission provides clarity on where to allocate resources and allows an organisation to focus on its true objectives, both internally and externally. It is important for organisations to simplify their processes to allow their organisation to respond to changes in the sector. If left to its own devices, every organisation trends towards complexity. It is a fight for simplicity.
“You never drift into simplicity; you always drift into complexity. You have to be very intentional about cutting to the chase and saying, this is what we do, this is why we do it … Simplicity breeds passion, and complexity breeds indifference. If you want people to be passionate about your cause you have to make it simple.”
Tim Hanna – outgoing CEO, Compassion Australia
The charities/not-for-profit sector largely exists to lead change. This may be change for justice, the environment, the alleviation of poverty or the building of community. Whatever sphere you may find yourself in, continue to lead change, continue to speak for those who don’t have a voice and make a difference in our communities.
“Anyone who works for a not-for-profit knows that sometimes you get knocked down and then you have to get up and go again, at times this could quieten the voices but I think we need to lead change, speak up boldly and strongly, and in that process we do that with humility and vulnerability.”
Daniel Flynn – Managing Director & Co-Founder, Thankyou