Connecting the charity landscape: part 4 – Creating connections with people
Welcome to the fourth part of our deep dive into using agile organisational structures, digital platforms and emerging technologies to create connections between organisations, causes and the public. If this is all news to you then please roll back a few weeks to catch up on our three previous blog posts:
- Connected communities: Using online alongside physical locations to help share values, interests and mutual connections.
- Taking a stand: Aligning your brand or organisational values to create lasting change for the cause that means something to you.
- Creating content: Thinking about meaningful digital content as something other than a new channel outlet for traditional print and video formats.
For our final blog on the subject, we’re going to tie it all together by talking about the most important factor – people-power. After all, people are the most important resource we have. Everything we do and everything we achieve is powered by people. In order to be fit for an uncertain future, organisations such as not-for-profits need to think about how well their structure and missions align with real-world needs that both serve, and are implemented by, people.
In our first post, we thought about how connected communities have been affected by the events of the last two years and how a community can be a geographically local group of people or a widely spaced group of like-minded people.
Within organisations, this latter description has come to define many groups that had, until 2020, been locally clustered around offices. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic pushed us into a new era where fully distributed and remote workforces have become a new normal that not all of us want to give up if it means returning to the grind of commuting. Yet with such a widely dispersed workforce, organisations now need to take some time out to reevaluate how talent is assessed, managed and interacted with.
What skills will your organisation need in order to flourish in the years ahead and have you equipped your staff with them? If not, how do you plan to go about upskilling and recruiting the people with the drive to dedicate their careers to your cause, even when they are relied upon to work in new ways and new locations that are no longer just the regular open-plan office?
In our second post – taking a stand – we looked at how it’s vital for an organisation to align itself with the causes and values it truly believes in, rather than jumping on popular bandwagons or feigning ecological concern. The same is very much true within organisations, which need to practice what they preach when it comes to structure, diversity and culture.
Every team has different needs and individual circumstances which require an element of flexibility and personalisation. With the focus being very much on the shape of your future, these changing needs and trends will (and should) shape the face of the not-for-profit sector.
In recent years, there has been a surge of support for change, lived experiences and better representation. Voices such as Charity So White and Show the Salary have started to transform board cultures and address diversity, while the pandemic-driven move away from central locations to more remote working and recruitment have acted as equalising forces. It’s no longer the case, for instance, that living and raising your family outside of London is a barrier to working for a not-for-profit organisation that used to be headquartered in the city.
People, a sense of community and values come together for the subject of our third blog – content. It’s through what you say, and how you say it, that the message of an organisation is spread to a wider audience. That message must not only be well constructed and clear, it must also be a sincere representation of what the organisation, as well as the people within it, truly believe. Finding individuals who share your values to work within your organisation not only strengthens the group, it also strengthens the message.
Looking ahead, what are the future-facing needs for talent across your organisation, the work you’re funding, and the sector you’re operating within? The future will require organisations to remain brave and nimble and to assess how changes in any part of their structure might affect everything else. Charities will continue to find new avenues and approaches to meet the uncertain economic and logistical demands of the ongoing Covid-19 recovery. The best ways to account for this uncertainty are to be agile in your thinking and leading, to embrace communities both on and offline and to value the contributions and enthusiasm of people everywhere.
Questions to ask yourself and your organisation:
- How will your talent strategy evolve for the new future?
- What could a diverse talent pool bring to your organisation?
- How do you make your sector appealing to a wider pool of talent?
- How do you maintain and build upon your culture when the teams of tomorrow are working in more distributed ways?
- How can you build a culture of agility as you continue to navigate uncertainty?
- What role do you have to play in the attraction of talent to your sector?