Non-profits aim to get the balance right
Are we sacrificing effectiveness in order to be efficient?
Danielle Riviere has brought together a group of presenters to address this question among others at The Centre on Philanthropy’s Biennial conference next week.
“Charting a Shared Course” looks at how Bermuda’s non-profit sector can work together to better support the island’s needs.
“We support the organisations that support our community,” said Ms Riviere who has had more than 20 years’ experience in the industry.
“Our role is really to look ahead of where we are, to look at where the sector could go, might go, should go.”
She said the organisation hopes to inspire participants to embrace the opportunities presented, and provide the tools necessary to enhancing efficiency.
“When the recession hit, a lot of organisations had to re-evaluate where they were spending their money, so they started to reduce staff,” she remembered.
“When you reduce staff, you reduce manpower. With organisations that were already running on a shoestring staff, it meant that we were already doing less.
“Too often we are so focused on the work that we’re doing that we don’t take the time to really look at how we can create an organisation that is effective and efficient and able to deliver to the community the services that we need.”
The conference started in 2007. Ms Riviere worked with CoP as a project manager for seven years before going out on her own as a consultant in 2013. She returned in December as the interim executive director.
“It was really rooted in the fact that so many charity representatives can’t afford to travel,” she said.
“We decided it was of value to bring in international speakers and identify local presenters who could share their information with members of the non-profit sector — what the trends are and what the best way that we can move forward as a unit, providing the social services in this country.”
There will be two international speakers. Nora Spinks will speak on engaging the next generation, personal development and work-life balance; Andrew Lockie will speak on organisation effectiveness and efficiency.
Ms Riviere said: “Sometimes we get so bogged down in being efficient and making sure that we’re accounting for every dollar that we lose the focus on how effective we are being.
“How do we balance that and have the impact we know is needed?”
She said balance is important. Part of her decision to step away from the centre in 2013 was to focus on her home life.
“We are so focused on the work that we do and helping others that we lose focus on ourselves,” she said.
“It is so easy to get caught up in what we are doing because we recognise that what we are doing is so valuable to the community. I’m the mother of three children and I recognised that I had to stop and refocus and really decide that it was time for me to look at where I wanted to go and the experiences that I wanted to have.
“When this opportunity to come back was proposed to me, after our years of working hands-on with organisations, I really knew that if I came back I would do things so differently.”
There are more than 320 registered charities in Bermuda. Six local presenters will address topics from engaging an individual donor to building an effective and engaged board, collaboration, bringing together donors and non-profits.
“Collaboration has always been at the forefront of the conversation in the non-profit world,” she said.
“The biggest hurdle that we’ve always had has been trust. Organisations can feel like they’re in direct competition with each other. Rather than seeing them as competition we should see them as an added opportunity to effect change.”
She said she has seen organisations come together after past conferences.
“The ability to share; to come together as a sector, ask the questions as a collective group of what we’re facing ... a moment when you’re not just focused on your organisation, but on the community that you are working so hard to help.”
Areas of capacity building, governance, fundraising and professional development will all be addressed.
“Like any sector in the world, we’re facing the baby boomers retiring,” she said.
“Our sector is led heavily by those baby boomers who have for many years engaged in this space as executive directors, board members, board chairs. As they’re slowly retiring we now know the importance of bringing in the next generation.
“Working in this sector is fulfilling but it is also a personal growth opportunity that you will not find in the corporate world.
“You grow real quick, you learn real quick, you experience things and take an initiative that can carry you throughout your lives when you work in the non-profit sector.”
She said the cause she is most passionate about is education.
“Until we are able to educate our children to survive not only professionally, but personally, we will continue to see the same issues,” she said.
Third-Sector Conference: Charting a Shared Course takes place on Friday, February 2 from 8am to 6pm at the Hamilton Princess, after an introductory session on Thursday, February 1, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm. For more information, visit the website, www.centreonphilanthropy.org
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