WHAT OTHERS CALL DYSFUNCTIONAL
It is not difficult to recognise the complexity of challenges major components of societies – governments, businesses and community organisations, face in environments they are forced operate in. What is obvious is that none of them can solve society’s problems in isolation.
In the organic sense, these large segments of society operate mostly inside their own silos. Meaningful external relationships are generally superficial and limited. The paucity of deeper relationships between them doesn’t propel societies to greater heights as it should.
Governments rely on individuals and businesses for revenue through taxation and other financial impositions to function yet in most cases they pay lip service to the important roles that com munity organisations play in resolving societal problems.
Businesses have lent some support to non-profit community organisations for decades. But with little perceived business benefit, the level of their support is often limited to small donations and gifts in kind.
Community organisations perceive government as a major faucet tap for hand-outs. They also consider businesses primarily as philanthropists rather than as partners in support their organ isational goals.
Ideally, these three components need to work together more intelligently as a combined force capable of ushering in significant solutions that ad dress the much wider social and economic problems that communities have to contend with. But the jigsaw puzzle remains for what it is.
If one were to equate government, business and community organisations as members of the same family, which fundamentally is the case, their internal relationships with each other are what others might call dysfunc tional often characterized by a lack of or breakdown of normal or beneficial relationships between members of the group.
TO REALLY CHANGE THE WORLD
Obviously, there is a lack of strategic vision largely driven by notions of how each component of society should comport themselves in relationships with others. These have become standards of behavioural practice akin to force-fitting round pegs into square holes. Because it has been done that way for a very long time, few bother to ask the simple questions of ‘why’ and ‘how come’.
Mankind moves through the continuum of history largely in starts and fits. It only manages to progress upwards toward higher planes when belief systems are questioned in much the same way as, for example, Galileo, Louis Pasteur, Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs and many other notables of their time have done so to really change the world for the better.
So how does this apply to the subject at hand? We start by highlighting the polarity that exists between the ‘round’ or philanthropic mindset and the ‘square’ or strategic mindset:
A philanthropic mindset is grounded on a standard which considers giving because one believes in a cause or it’s the right thing to do or it fulfils wishes of some directors or shareholders. Being subjective in nature, no form of return or benefit is sought or expected.
On the other hand, a strategic mindset views relationships as a fusion of values of all three pegs of society working collectively towards a common outcome. Each segment brings its own expertise, resources and strengths to the relationship and all parties receive benefits. The key point is that all parties involved are aware of their motivations for engagement and are willing to clearly communicate these before the relationship begins.
A SUSTAINABLE VALUE CHAIN
When government and business are queried on why they do not support non-profit organisations as much as they should, the usual reasons offered are: (1) they do not have the time, money or resources to spare or, (2) that such involvements have no value for their own organisations. These respon ses are perfectly understandable particularly within the context of a philan thropic mindset.
Donor fatigue is a phenomenon in which people no longer give to charities as they may have willingly in the past because their interest has waned. It is characterised by a general weariness and diminished response for requests for aid.
As it stands, the predominantly philanthropic approach driving relationships between government, businesses and charity-based organisations lacks a sustainable value chain. This means that in most cases real opportunities for optimising positive outcomes for all are not being realised. All the while, ‘disengagement’ leaves parties unsatisfied with the result – missed opportunities to explore partner ships with potentials to create real outcomes in the wider social, cultural, economic and environmental contexts.
EXECUTING STRATEGIC CHANGE
Without necessarily downplaying the validity and value of purely philanthropic relationships, strategic relationships do create more sustainable benefits to society. This is the force of thought and a belief system which set directions at the leadership levels of SCOT Trust New Zealand.
As a community organisation with charitable operations focused on disadvantaged children, SCOT Trust New Zealand also acknowledges that one can’t properly execute strategic change in a society if one doesn’t fully understand what really needs to be done on a ‘first-things-first’ basis.
In this particular instance, SCOT’s modus operandi is well-defined:
The real work entailed in transforming lives of street children and orphans because they happen to be the more disadvantaged and vulnerable members of society doesn’t mean having them dependent on the dole or the charity of others for the rest of their lives because they can’t manage their own affairs. Rather, all they need is a level playing field to become productive members of society.
These children’s wounds are deep, but their words powerful. SCOT listens to them carefully and looks at each one’s circumstances more intimately. They all have something to teach us, and that is – to restore back to them the value of what is essential – the fortitude that confidence brings to the dignity of the human spirit which inherently resides within them so that they can as individuals rise above their own circumstances of oppression and poverty.
To effect meaningful outcomes, SCOT’ has developed its 3-stage “Slingshot” empowerment model as key to breaking the shackles of poverty. First, we ‘Reach’ (or engage) them. Next, we ‘Raise’ (or energise) them to aspire to what they can potentially become. Lastly, we ‘Release’ (or empower) them to develop and achieve their full potential.
The Slingshot Model is unique in that SCOT acts as a generator, consolidator and facilitator of resources all which are channelled through a number of Hope Training Centres it has established since 2010. In these locations, it is the children themselves who run the centres with proper guidance and encouragement of SCOT’s trustees and volunteers.
These Centres are now producing significant outcomes as the ‘product’ of SCOT’s ongoing organ isational development efforts.
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES
For government and businesses facing crowded charity marketplace, there is no absolute formula for engagement decisions to be made. But before relationships are established it is, however, important to identify a com munity organisation’s unique point of difference and determine its poten tials to complements their own goals, product or brand.
Knowing how important this is SCOT Trust New Zealand has invested time to make sure that everyone it comes into contact with during one-on-one or group meetings, presentations, and interviews steps out of the door afterwards with a clearer understanding of what it does for sustainable change and how it goes about doing it. In that respect, SCOT believes that if the reasons are clear and makes intuitive sense, it will lead to cementing relationships of trust over time in partnerships with government and businesses.
A GROWING NATIONAL TREND
These days, New Zealanders from all walks of life think more highly of government and businesses that support charities which produce sustainable results and returns. As individuals, they are part of a growing national trend that’s seeing them as an inspired community of voters and consumers taking an increased interest in how their government and businesses are behaving socially, environmentally and culturally.
People these days now exhibit a strong preference for providing support as voters and consumers to government and businesses that are making wise choices which produce a positive difference in their society.
SCOT’s strong interest in exploring how what it does well can be leveraged by government and businesses as partners for greater voter and customer loyalty and staff engagement. These engagements have the potential for adding value financially as an employer and commercially as being seen as active participants in their communities.
SCOT Trust New Zealand | Inspired Communities
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