Monday, February 1, 2010

Five Guiding Trends to Help Your Organization Reshape Its Future

Thanks to a comment on one of the many listservs I read, I’ve just started reading Convergence:  How Five Trends Will Reshape the Social Sector, published last November by the James Irving Foundation.  Right off the bat I’m encouraged that there are many avenues cultural nonprofits can explore right now based on the report’s findings.

These avenues stem from five trends the report discusses: 

• Demographic Shifts Redefine Participation
• Technological Advances Abound
• Networks Enable Work to Be Organized in New Ways
• Interest in Civic Engagement and Volunteerism Is Rising
• Sector Boundaries Are Blurring
The future will bring a wider array of structural options and a greater willingness to experiment, as well as a heightened demand for accountability and compelling measures of social value.  The driving question will be, “What do we want to accomplish?” Successful organizations will quickly move beyond traditional assumptions about how those goals are attempted and think creatively about structural forms, recognizing that different goals demand new solutions.
These five trends offer so much opportunity and optimism for cultural organizations – two commodities that seem to be in short supply.  Fortunately, inventive thinking is free.

Discussions based on the driving question, “what do we want to accomplish?”, are excellent starting points for reengineering organizational infrastructure.  Taking small steps, an organization can change its board composition, its committee structure, its staffing structure, its volunteer composition and structure, and ultimately its programming – even its physical assets – to support the answer to “what do we want to accomplish?”.

Photo:  Pigeon Point Lighthouse from MumbleyJoe 

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