How NFP Leaders Can Set The Path For Success In 2016

As you’ve probably heard, a new year is upon us.

And we’re feeling optimistic.

2015 proved a turbulent year, but the ever-resilient social sector pushed through with some great wins. Over the past 12 months, we were chuffed to see the topic of financial sustainability become a part of normal conversation within the sector. In 2016 we look forward to seeing more of the conversation move from ‘concept’ to ‘action’. And it will. There is a demonstrated hunger to do things differently.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter is onboard, recently stating, “Sustainability of the system is vital and we cannot let a situation persist whereby, because the nation is spending more than it earns in revenue, our expenditure today comes at the expense of future Australians.” Source: Third Sector December 2015 Issue

Right now you’re probably stretching through some post-Christmas downtime after a well-deserved break (if you managed to get one). This is the perfect time for Not for Profit leaders to look at the organisation’s strategy and set some new years resolutions to guide the year’s efforts.

Here’re some ideas for resolutions we saw successful NFP leaders adopt last year and reap the benefits:

Repeat after me. “In 2016 I will…”

  • make financial sustainability a priority, so that there is less reliance on government funding
  • maximise budgeting season planning time by planning ahead and looking at my business model (before my funding model)
  • seek out valuable partnerships across different sectors
  • go to the gym at least once a week

“In 2016 I will not…”

  • just continue with business as usual and hope it all works out
  • be risk-averse, because being risk-averse is actually risky
  • lump my beneficiaries and customers together
  • watch a whole TV season in one go

Good, now let’s support each other so that we can stick to them.

Of course, 2016 isn’t a regular year. It’s an election year. What’s the significance of this? It provides NFPs with the chance of getting their cause onto the federal stage, as David Crosbie recently pointed out.

“Election years provide a critical opportunity to ensure key issues in our sector are part of the national policy discussions leading into the election.”

But he also warns there will be innumerable organisations vying for attention.

“Influencing the national policy agenda will not be easy over the coming year as many industries and sectors increase their investment in political advocacy at this stage of the election cycle.”

So what can NFP leaders do? Be loud. Be consistent. Make waves. And really scrutinise your value proposition – as we have done.

We come into 2016 with a rejuvenated mission:

Ultimately, we do everything we do at Spark to solve social problems.

But we go beyond that. We want to fix the systems in place that allow for social problems to occur. And for a new year we have a revitalised mission to focus our efforts toward.

We know that society has the resources and knowledge that (if applied and combined correctly) would be more than sufficient to solve these problems.

What’s needed is an alignment of interests, from a coalition of courageous leaders, unearthing and trying models of practical, sustainable and enduring impact.

This involves:

  • A strong, dynamic and sustainable social sector.
  • A purposeful private sector.
  • A solutions-focused philanthropic sector.
  • An enabling and bridge building public sector.

All aligned and working together to eradicate the old problems, and solve new ones as they emerge.

We believe in a future where no social problem is permanent.

2015 has guided us to the realisation that, with the right models, each member of society can pursue their own outcomes whilst addressing social problems.

The key is to align the self-interest of individual groups with the solution of the social problem. The solution, not annual funding and servicing.

Alignment must not just be at a moral level, but in a manner that plays directly to the rationale for being for each societal member, otherwise it will not be sustainable.

Our shortcut for this is “profit for purpose”.

Leap years are something that generally only make themselves apparent at the end of February. This year is different though. We’re embodying the leap as we launch a second office, grow our team, engage with new sectors and work towards a focused mission.

The amazing work across the sector has set the stage for the blossoming of the new economy.

Let’s all take the leap and make 2016 the year of profit for purpose.

If you are interested in learning more about business strategy and sustainable business models

Download our Whitepaper on ‘In Search of Sustainability’

Click Here