Made the switch from the corporate world to working with purpose? Here’s what you need to know now
12 July 2019 at 4:59 pm
If you’re in a dull corporate gig, the idea of running a charity might seem like a dream. So perhaps it’s no surprise an increasing number of professionals are making the switch to the NFP sector. But it doesn’t come without obstacles. We asked Vera Visevic, the NFP partner for Mills Oakley, about some of the main challenges in moving to a NFP career.
So what obstacles are there?
Some of the challenges that have been identified for people moving into the sector include a lack of specific courses to help you understand the basics of the operating environment; understanding that the organisation’s constitution is paramount; outdated governance structures; and different ways of measuring success – it’s not simply about financial dividends anymore, but social outcomes.
But for Visevic, one of the biggest adjustments is that charities are trying to do a lot with not a lot of money behind them. If you’re used to having resources on tap in your old job, then this will be a bit of an adjustment.
“This might make it harder to carry out your responsibilities and delegate because you just can’t afford to go off and pay for appropriate advice,” Visevic says.
You may also come up against a board that’s been there for a long time and is resistant to change.
“NFP boards can be quite reluctant to undergo any change, are risk averse or are just happy with the way things already are,” Visevic says.
“This will be frustrating because the whole reason you came in was to be an agent of change, but this is made difficult by a board who might not necessarily support you in that.”
What can you do about this?
As much as you might want to, changing the way the organisation and the board run probably isn’t going to happen overnight. What you can do though is prioritise the most important changes and introduce the ideas quickly to your board so they have time to get used to it.
“In my experience, NFP boards will take 12 to 18 months to make any big changes, whereas it might take a corporate board two or three months,” Visevic says.
“The new CEO will need to prioritise things they want to change and introduce those ideas well before time so that boards can grow accustomed to them.”
Running governance training sessions to broaden the minds of your board members could also help.
“Running this training might start opening up their minds as to what they should be doing more of, and how they can be more agile,” Visevic says.
Returning to purpose
The reality is, you will be faced with frustrations in your new job that didn’t exist in your corporate one. But focusing on the small wins and the mission of your organisation can be a truly motivating force to keep going.
“Most CEOs that have shifted from one sector to the other have gone through this period of frustration,” Visevic says.
“But, if you lower your expectations, are in it for the long term, get fulfillment out of what the organisation is trying to do on a day-to-day basis, and continue to make small changes slowly, you will find the motivation to keep going.”