The Choice Is Yours – Grow or Leave
14 February 2017 at 8:10 am
Richenda Vermeulen, digital strategist and director of ntegrity, explains that she left the NFP world because there were no opportunities for professional growth in the digital space.
Five years ago I made the decision to leave the NFP world to start ntegrity. I was a social media manager and proud to have spearheaded world-first charity influencer programs, build extremely large and engaged online communities and I loved the team I worked with.
But something was missing. I wasn’t learning.
I’ve never been one to do things by halves so my solution was to jump right in and start my own digital strategy agency. This has been a learning experience like no other, teaching me so much about digital and myself.
In my former NFP role I recognised I could only progress so far in digital because the organisation had an over-reliance on traditional fundraising. For me to grow professionally, the organisation needed to grow its digital acumen; a challenge the majority of NFPs, government organisations and businesses still face in 2017.
Five years on from creating ntegrity I can say that jumping in the deep end was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It has made me learn at a rapid pace, not only in our client work but from experts we’ve brought in along the way. It was the right solution for me, but the good news is yours doesn’t need to be so drastic.
What I’ve learnt…
I’ve learnt the biggest challenges to digital transformation are internal, to do with leadership, culture and people. And one of the strongest assets to an organisation is not an investment in technology, or a big budget, but a feedback driven leader with high digital acumen who can articulate what the vision for digital is across the organisation.
I’ve learnt that a strategy can last years, but marketing tactics to achieve those goals need to change, sometimes daily.
I’ve learnt that data-informed decisions are powerful, but when a whole organisation understands the data, they are unstoppable.
I’ve learnt it’s impossible to be an expert in all facets of digital marketing but it’s vital to know something about every digital discipline because they draw together the same holistic picture.
I’ve learnt best from the staff we’ve brought on. From one-on-one time with subject matter experts to help me be an all-round specialist (with a black belt in social media).
How you can grow…
Time and time again I see my (former) self in the NFPs we work with. Smart, capable, passionate staff who are eager to learn digital but with few options on where to learn from. Most courses are taught by generalists and even as a director of a digital strategy agency that’s worked with 100 NFPs – I know I can’t teach you everything. That’s why we’ve launched ntegrity academy, to give staff the chance to learn from multiple experts.
But better training is only one option. The choice is yours: if you are not growing, that is a risk to your career. It’s important to take your professional growth in your own hands.
Whether that’s crafting a personal development plan, paying for a mentor or taking a pay cut for a job that will challenge you more but be less secure. The most important investment you make in yourself is your growth.
But ultimately, it means getting uncomfortable. Because to grow, you need to change and challenge yourself.
Pushing myself to grow far outside my comfort zone has been the secret sauce to my success. In 2017, contemplate leaning in to the discomfort and let it be yours.
About the author: Richenda Vermeulen is the director of ntegrity, a digital consultancy that helps NFPs implement innovative solutions to improve fundraising and communications. Prior to ntegrity, Vermeulen spent 12 years in the not-for-profit sector, from frontline social work to launching social media marketing at World Vision Australia and World Vision USA.