CEO update | July 2018 | NFP sector
Hello Resolution Institute members and colleagues,
Resolution Institute encourages Board members and staff to maintain their skills and develop their knowledge about the DR sector and the larger not-for-profit sector within the community.
Resolution Institute is one of close to 700,000 not-for-profit organisations within Australia and New Zealand. Not-for-profits span a large range of professional groups such as doctors, lawyers, landscape architects, ultrasound technologists, archivists, traffic planners… and industry and interest groups such as furnishings, dental hygiene, pets, netball, property, sports science…
A Resolution Institute team of four (Chair, CEO and two GMs) attended the recent Associations Forum and found our curiosity piqued by the diversity of professional focus and interests of the roughly 500 attending organisations. Significantly, we found ourselves engaged by presentations which spoke to key challenges shared across the not-for-profit sector.
For many not-for-profits, a major part of their raison d’être is service to members and in turn, to the community. Not-for-profits play a significant role in enhancing the community perception of members as being part of well-respected professions. Promoting high standards of qualification (such as accreditation and grading) and ethical behaviour is a core part of service to members. Still core and yet increasingly challenging is provision of information and education, which has been chipped away by the expanding access to open source information from across the globe. Increasingly, organisations such as Resolution Institute are seeking to add value by identifying different segments within their membership and curating information that specifically addresses the needs of those different member segments. Particular challenges lie in presenting that information in the range of ways that different members like to receive it: visually, aurally, graphically, text-based, hard copy, soft copy, on a computer and on mobile devices. To meet these challenges there is an ever-growing emphasis on content and relationship management systems with sophisticated functionality and potential for complex and meaningful data analytics. And all on tight budgets.
Alongside the pillar of serving members stand two other equally important pillars: advocacy and promotion.
Large numbers of not-for-profits, as well as for-profits, want the ear of government. Competition is fierce; government is complex and government agendas are full. Pitching a cause effectively needs the right audience in the right arm of government, clear messaging, evidence base, potential for political mileage and likelihood of solving a problem. Paraphrasing one speaker: Advocacy is something of a dark art. Advocacy is about playing the long game. It is about building relationships over many years, showing yourselves to be good partners. Sometimes the most effective advocacy is virtually invisible – it is stopping government making a poor decision that no-one knew government was going to make. The days of getting quick wins have gone.
Promoting the organisation, the cause and the professionals is a strategic endeavour inextricably linked with creating value for sponsors and media outlets. It relies on vision, story, effort and immediacy. News cycles are short; news items are short; news is shared and re-shared; news is visual. One striking stat at the conference was that 60% of video is watched without audio – an imperative for sub-titling. Promoting our presence with audiences that are important in the field of dispute resolution (isn’t that everyone?) will increasingly need investment in digital marketing and social media to connect members with each other, members with potential clients and work referrers and Resolution Institute with business, government and the broader community.
Food for thought!
26 July 2018