A non-profit organisation’s (NPO) board is responsible for realising the organisation’s vision and mission and allocating resources effectively. However, stifled creativity to tackle societal issues can often lead to an organisation’s progressive demise.
Often, a board that has done things the same way for too long finds itself unchallenged and demotivated, struggling to come up with new ways to solve old problems. NPOs need to continually adapt to evolving market conditions, just as for-profit organisations do – and sometimes, that means breaking the shackles of convention and challenging the old order to find order in society’s current chaos.
That’s where creative professionals – whether they’re artists, advertising professionals, writers, or designers – can shake things up a little, and shed their creative light on longstanding issues.
Creative thinkers sittings on NPO boards can contribute to long-term social change, using their skills to transform funding models and promote out-of-the-box methods of expanding reach, all the while complementing their colleagues’ conventional skills. This combination creates a powerhouse of social change.
Creativity is required for NPOs to survive a changing environment
NPOs are not immune to the uncertainty and challenges that impact for-profit organisations. It’s just that in the non-profit space, these challenges include reaching beneficiaries in the deepest corners of the country, the need to inspire confidence from stakeholders and donors, and navigating the current economic landscape.
Not adapting to the changing environment can be likened to sticking one’s head in the sand, lagging behind other NPOs and eventually becoming irrelevant. By introducing creative thinking at the leadership level, NPOs can identify innovative ways to solve social ills and adopt new approaches and programmes to raise funding and attract volunteers.
Donors and volunteers are drawn to innovative organisations
Demonstrating innovation makes an NPO more attractive to donors and volunteers. It leads to sustainable operations, which leaves donors and volunteers confident that their efforts, resources and funding are utilised efficiently.
Inspiring this confidence requires the NPO’s decision-making body to include members with diverse perspectives of the world around them. Each member should be able to contribute their network of contacts and draw from their life and professional experiences to progress the vision and mission of the NPO.
This board structure puts the organisation in a much stronger position to plan, manage risk, make practical decisions, and take full advantage of opportunities to help those in need.
The role of creative thinkers on the NPO boards
Being creative and innovative is no easy task – ask the for-profit sector. If NPOs wish to be creative and sustainable, they need to start at the top – at the board member level. There needs to be a demonstrated commitment to calling on creative experts to get involved and actively engage with NPOs for our country’s future.
This collaborative approach is part of the bigger mission of NPOs like United Way South Africa to connect all sectors of society, including individuals, businesses, academia, non-profit organisations and the government.
Through new ideas, cutting edge funding models and innovating NPO practice and approach, we can ensure the survival of this sector in South Africa and create a lasting positive impact in South Africa’s most vulnerable communities.
And, finally, could there be a more inspiring way to stimulate one’s own creative soul – whatever your discipline – than to apply your mind and your creativity to uplifting your fellow citizens?
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