Helping ‘left behind’ children to learn
By Alison Broady,
What can charities learn from entrepreneurial organisations? Think of an effective charity, tackling intractable and important social issues. Then imagine what that charity could achieve with the agility and pace of Facebook, the productivity of Google, or the creativity and growth of Netflix?
"The answer isn’t simply more resource; we need a fundamental shift in how we choose to spend our money."
Today, the work of the social sector has never been more vital. But while the world’s most entrepreneurial companies focus obsessively on productivity, the charity sector struggles with innovation and pace. With the large-scale ambition and effectiveness of technology companies, surely charities could stop triaging social crises and start the imaginative work of building a more equitable and effective society?
Last year, generously funded by the Churchill Fellowship and the Rank Foundation, I took up a Churchill Fellowship to understand what charities could learn from the world's most enterprising companies. I visited New York, Nashville and San Francisco, interviewing some of the world’s fastest-growing and most effective technology companies and advisers to understand how they drive productivity. These included Google, Facebook, Netflix and Founders Space. (The poster above is from the Facebook office in New York.)
To build cultural context and rigour into my research, I also interviewed innovative US-based nonprofits (including the Center for Nonprofit Management, Pencils of Promise, St Luke’s Nashville), consultants with insight into local non-profit and for-profit culture, and individual experts (including London and Partners and Bridgespan).
My findings surprised me. The question I was asking was - what what culture drives impact and productivity? I found that the answer isn’t simply more resource; we need a fundamental shift in how we choose to spend our money.
My research found that the most effective organisations share five key characteristics. They are open, clear, frictionless, talent-focused and continuously improving. They drive these characteristics in the following ways, which all charity leaders could emulate.
This process is difficult. My report sets out 14 critical questions for UK charity leaders to ask themselves as they set off on their journey, which should help ensure that their people are in the right shape to take on new models and new approaches.
By developing open, clear, frictionless, talent-focused and continuously improving charities, we’ll drive more social impact. By focusing internally for once, rather than externally, by putting our own oxygen masks on first, we’ll ultimately do more good for those who need it most.
The views and opinions expressed by any Fellow are those of the Fellow and not of the Churchill Fellowship or its partners, which have no responsibility or liability for any part of them.
By Alison Broady,
By Jonathan Vincent,
By Arfah Farooq,