Connect 101 – under the skin of the not-for-profit sector worldwide
At the beginning of June, our leadership coaches spoke with 67 not-for-profit organisations across the world as part of our annual event, Connect 101.

Each year we initiate powerful conversations between charities and leadership coaches. For one week, all our coaches made themselves available for 1-hour conversations, to locations all over the world and entirely free of charge.

For not-for-profit organisations- it was an opportunity to get a deeper understanding of leadership development and coaching and its potential to impact on the success of their work.

For our coaches – it was an opportunity to get a greater understanding of the needs of the not-for-profit sector and how best we can support and help.

In a small way this event delivers part of our social mission – to make leadership coaching and development accessible to charities and social enterprises worldwide.

It also brings two great change agents together (charities and coaches) for one hour of detailed exploration around the greatest challenges facing the world at this time.
Connect101 banner

In this blog, we’d like to share what we heard. What people were saying from Papua New Guinea to Tanzania, Colombia to Hong Kong; from people fighting for women’s rights in Slovakia to helping starving children in Africa.

There is a real need and desire for professional support; the statistics show a strong appetite for leadership development and coaching
1. 96% said that leadership development would be useful or very useful in their organisation.
2. 84% would like to learn more about leadership development
3. 72% were extremely satisfied with the 1-hour coaching conversation – and with 24% also satisfied that’s a 96% success rate
4. these conversations were with individuals in 25 countries across 4 continents in seven languages

We conduct our conversations in a loose framework of three questions:
– what are your main Show Stoppers?
– what are the main challenges?
– what are the main opportunities and resources?

Here are some of the highlights. You will recognize many of these and then there are a few surprises!

The main show stoppers? Looking at these closely, we are hearing that these leaders are often working in an environment of deficit, lack of funds, lack of skills, lack of planning and lack of maneuverability – internally and externally.

1. Lack of Funding
2. Internal and external bureaucracy
3. Skills of staff and team
4. Finding the right people
5. Prioritization and planning – often completely missing
6. Restricted funding; donors dictate what they can do

What were some of the key challenges? Below are some of the main challenge themes unedited, and behind these we see real challenges from people working alone with little structure, wearing many hats, being well intentioned but not well organized; clearly there is both a knowledge and capacity gap
The Key Challenges
1. Building alliances through effective collaboration
2. Empowering and motivating stakeholder groups; partners, volunteers, staff, suppliers
3. Managing personal versus professional time
4. Knowing how to grow the charity
5. Constant reporting and fundraising
6. Endless fire-fighting
7. Laws and regulations changing

What are the opportunities & resources? Interestingly the answers fall into three main categories.
1. External influences
2. The Power of relationships
3. Inner strength and resourcefulness.

These were expressed as:

1. Opportunity – for partnerships and alliances
2. Opportunity – to choose how we react to challenges – to look at what can be done differently
3. Resources – Many passionate and willing teams
4. Opportunity – to use a critical voice and shine a light where others will not

The larger and emerging themes from our Connect 101 event are:
1. leaders want to understand and practice Personal Sustainability;
2. not-for-profits want to look at diverse funding and revenue streams;
3. both internally and externally greater collaboration needs to actually happen – in turn this will forge greater impact and reach;
4. funders need to invest in people.
And lastly we are hugely looking forward to running this event in 2017. It is rare, and our privilege, to be invited into the thoughts of the outstanding people responsible for this vital part of our social fabric. Thank you to all 67 participants. And I leave you with a picture of which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals our participants work in…