Moving at the speed of change…

While all of us seem to be moving at the speed of change – or getting left behind – , a recent foundation report prepared for a California foundation identified five trends accelerating the change in non-profits.

First, say authors Heather Gowdy, Alex Hildebrand, David LaPiana, and Melissa Mendes Campos, is the impact of demographic change on participation, including from younger staff entering organizations.  The report flags the challenge of intergenerational sharing of leadership.

Second, technological advances, including the expectations of social media participation, require greater empowerment of all staff in the sector, regardless of their title or level.  (I’ll be saying more about technology in the voluntary sector in an upcoming issue of The Philanthropist.)

Third, networks introduce the possibility and perhaps even the requirement of greater flexibility onto voluntary organizations, which they suggest will be most challenging for larger, more stable organizations.

Fourth, the authors point to rising interest in civic engagement and volunteering.  In particular, they say, this is challenging because younger volunteers have different expectations of how they will be involved.

Finally, they report that sector boundaries are blurring, as more organizations re-shape themselves to meet emerging demands and respond to shifting funding arrangements, including through social enterprise.  This coincides with new merges and partnerships within the sector.

This report goes to point to new competencies required in the sector as a result of these trends: new tools, new leadership approaches, and even new organizational structures.

These trends have also been flagged in other sectors, and within the voluntary sector in Canada by organizations like the HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector in an article on “Generation Why?” and Volunteer Canada, with a publication on how to recruit and retain youth as volunteers, which can be ordered here.

What this California report brings is a fresh (though perhaps not entirely applicable) perspective, and some interesting examples and analysis.

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