What will happen to the charity sector in the next 20 years?
After 52 interviews with senior leaders in the charity sector and in corporate purpose, the message was clear.
“Continuing as we are isn’t going to be the solution to the problems we face.”
Director of Strategy & Impact.
This is what we heard and what we intend to do about it.
Every senior leader agreed that what the future needs to be isn’t the path the sector is currently on.
The challenges aren’t new, they know there needs to be change but the barriers mean they can’t make the change required.
If we don’t invest now in building the future we need and want, we will inevitably sleepwalk into the worst case scenarios - irrelevance, being ineffective or ultimately the death of the sector.
Change is possible and change is happening. But this change is also being stifled by the risk practices and ways of working of the old paradigm.
We don’t have the luxury of waiting. The biggest challenges society faces right now, climate crisis, an epidemic of loneliness, growing divisions in access to healthcare and education, rising levels of poverty - all of which charities are inherently set up to solve - threaten our existence as a society. They need collective action urgently, not in 20 years time.
These problems are not going to be addressed by individual organisations working around the edges, or well-meaning charity of the year partnerships, or sternly worded letters published in The Times signed by 50 charity CEOs.
This is not about saving charity for charity’s sake, but rather about building the foundations of something stronger, more agile and more fit to tackle future problems.
We need shared language and shared metrics for impact, one that articulates more than just money in and money out, or participants engaged.
Solving this could be a massive enabler to articulating impact and developing more effective solutions. But this can’t be developed in isolation by one organisation or venture.
There is consensus on what needs to happen but no common, collective voice driving action.
We passionately believe in the role innovation plays in delivering impact, And we’re impatient. We want change to start today.
Through writing “The Future of Charity” report we have identified 5 areas where we can collaborate on these big, meaty, structural issues.
We hope that by coming together we can share the effort and manage the risks by putting our heads above the parapet and by using our collective brains and voices we can create the future we want to see.
Want to be part of the change?
We need shared language and shared metrics for impact, one that articulates more than just money in and money out, or participants engaged. Solving this could be a massive enabler to articulating impact and developing more effective solutions. But this can’t be developed in isolation by one organisation or venture.
We’re pulling together a collaboration of charities and academics to explore this topic, kicking off Winter 2023. If you’re interested in being part of a collaboration to explore this topic, please get in touch with daisy@ goodinnovation.co.uk
We’ve heard time and time again about some of the cultural challenges in charities and how these can be a blocker to innovation - and to change more generally. On the flip side, we’ve also seen firsthand the power of an entrepreneurial approach and mindset to delivery. Through working with startups as they scale we’ve admired their tenacity, perseverance and ability to solve problems rather than get stuck, their ability to inspire team spirit and a common purpose, and their ability to quickly take calculated risks balancing the benefit and the consequences. To drive change we want to create a collective culture around intrapreneurship within the sector. We saw through Good Lab the benefit of taking people out of their day-to-day, and immersing them in different ways of working, so we want to create a collective intrapreneurship programme. A space where people can learn by doing, supported by their peers, advisors and entrepreneurs. A space where people can bring their delivery project and work in a way that coaches, educates and inspires them to get shit done. And a space that enables people to take this different culture back into their organisation and start to inspire others.
Interested in getting involved? We’ll be kicking off the first cohort in Autumn 2023. Please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
By now we all know that AI is going to change how we do what we do. But what does this really mean? How can we upskill the sector quickly to understand how AI will change our sector, and how can we design solutions that answer real user needs, rather than retrofitting technology to fit? Rather than multiple charities repeating the same learning exercise, we’re pulling together a collaboration of charities and experts to explore what AI means for the third sector. We want to upskill teams with the foundations as quickly as possible, and then co-create new interventions and solutions. We’ll be building off the approach we refined in Good Lab to create shared ventures and services.
Interested in getting involved? We’ll be kicking off this collaboration in Autumn 2023. Please get in touch with email@example.com
Cause Collective Collaborations We believe in collaborations. So much so that they’re the third pillar of our strategy as a consultancy. We want to help the sector supercharge and get more collaborations off the ground, building off the legacy and success of Good Lab. That’s why, in 2023/24, we’re investing in building cause collective collaborations. At the heart of these collaborations is innovation to co-create new products, services, solutions and ventures to answer specific challenges highlighted by the collective partners.
Interested in exploring the potential of collaborating with others in your ecosystem on shared, innovative solutions? Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re already exploring opportunities in pet welfare, so we’re particularly keen to hear from CEOs of charities and businesses in this space.
Collaboration We all know governance isn’t working, but we’re never going to solve this as individual actors. We’re launching a collaboration to bring together interested parties to explore and innovate charity governance, launching Summer, 2023. We want to take a three-pronged approach to governance. Academic foundations to prove the anecdotal evidence, innovation to develop culture change, along with new tools and services to improve governance, and lobbying for a Cadbury style review. Because if we don’t challenge the foundations of the system then we’ll continue to be stuck with many of the same challenges. We’re planning on kicking this off with a round table to bring interested parties together to discuss shared problems and land on some quick start points and bigger ambition.
We’re aiming to bring people together in June / July 2023. We’re keen that, whilst we make time for the therapy bit, we move as quickly as possible to innovation and action. We’re looking for CEOs, trustees, interested organisations and groups, policy makers, and, most importantly, individuals and groups who have been excluded in the past from joining trustee boards. Want to find out more or get involved? Contact email@example.com
Workshop for boards: Want to start a conversation in your organisation about what these themes mean for you? The Good Innovation team can help by running a workshop with management teams and boards to help explore and discuss the implications.