Could Our NFP Ego Be Holding Us Back?
8 December 2015 at 10:08 am
Focussing on the way Not for Profit’s communicate their impact is how they can start to dodge the trappings of arrogance and achieve long-term interest, writes Perth-based community advocate and researcher, Conrad Liveris.
When we discuss impact of our programs it can be easy to be confident. After all, that is what we think our partners and supporters want to see.
Establishing legitimacy is a difficult process in the social sector. There are lots of players and competitors, but we are often in cahoots to support each other’s goals too.
Recently I gathered around a table with about 20 different organisations focussing on a particular issue. We all had our niches and specialities but our overarching goals were pretty similar.
Quickly the motives of some were to remind everyone of their own prestige and experience. Others wanted to emphasise their on-ground knowledge. Some spoke about their innovative processes.
I sat back and thought about what a waste of time this was. We all had a reasonable idea of each other’s work and just wanted a productive meeting.
Whether it is in those rooms, with our supporters or the general public, we all need to have an element of legitimacy. Without a recognition of our work it makes it harder for us to achieve cut-through and buy-in to our projects.
Last week I spoke to the University of Western Australia’s Social Impact Alumni about these challenges. They were focussing on leaving your ego at the door.
I mentioned this to one of my corporate clients and they looked at me confused and wondered about the ego in the social sector.
The social sector is made up of people who are giving and driven by the social good. No, we are not perfect, and we can be inward in our thinking.
Ego is developed when we are questioning ourselves, when we feel we need to outdo each other. It is about ourselves and not about the program.
Focussing on the way we communicate our impact is where we can start to dodge the trappings of arrogance and achieve long-term interest.
Along with others I emphasised the need for data and evidence to both track and analyse programs, but also to be communicable to partners. Legitimacy is established by showing success or, better yet, having that success precede you.
While we all like having our work reported on in the media, how we get that reporting is more important. Rather than responding to comment, our efforts should be focussed on adding value through our evidence and programs to current conversations.
This allows us to leverage and guide debate, rather than sitting on the sidelines. When we focus on what we do best and translate those outcomes for our peers, partners and the public that is when our organisations will thrive.
Blindsided by what we think is right or an effort to get ahead, we can lose sight of what is important. Our outcomes.
About the Author: Conrad Liveris is an advocate, adviser and researcher on the politics and economics of diversity. He is an adviser and researcher on the politics and economics of diversity, and a co-founder of homeless advocacy and education Not for Profit, Street Smugglers. @ConradLiveris | Find me on LinkedIn