Today we continue our discussion of the opportunities presented for innovation in the nonprofit sector, by looking at two other ways to influence innovation capabilities.
Promote innovation as an organizational value
Making innovation one of the primary concerns for the organization would be very beneficial for keeping up with the demands of the ever-changing scenarios nonprofits face on a daily basis. Placing innovation as a prime focus and not as side responsibility or allowing it to fall on a second plane is vital as teams that are dedicated to innovation have seen much better results in their innovation processes. There is a tendency in business to assign the innovation tasks to someone who already carries a lot on their plates, leading to innovation falling behind in both funding and importance.
Creativity cannot be forced, however when the organization and the people get themselves in the right mindset; the frame is set for a truly innovative experience where there is a real exchange of ideas to find imaginative solutions. Looking back at last week’s post, I discussed how passionate people with a shared interest could be beneficial for the organization. Adding people who believe in the cause and want to improve the organization will be most helpful to introducing innovation in the organization since working alongside someone who is passionate, friendly, and driven is much more pleasant. In this video, the United Way innovation team speaks about their innovation process, showing how important it is to have innovation as an organizational value.
Clear communication within the organization
Communication, whether written or spoken, is the basis of any activity within the organization, ranging from planning, ideating, or implementing. Communicating effectively is essential for organizations as they seek to promote unity among all parties involved in the nonprofit. Nonprofits often act internationally or over an extensive geographical space and struggle with effective communication. The lack of clear communication is a generator for many significant problems that could pop up in an organization like uncoordinated action and ineffective operations. On the other hand, excellent communication will increase the organization’s productivity, decrease employee turnover, and improve the atmosphere in the workspace. Keeping a transparent and open stream of communication within the organization will help keep people connected, and will improve the attitude because an informed worker tends to have a better position than an uninformed one. A good example of this can be seen with the DREAMS innovation challenge case study, where the challenge acted internationally and was lead by a partnership between many organizations still managed to be successful in creating a good crowdsourced list of great ideas.
Innovation in nonprofits is hard, but the very nature of the problems faced demand it. As we have seen in this series, nonprofits face important challenges that are in constant change and require innovation. At the same time, nonprofits, due to their complexity, have inherent issues with innovation. As innovation is a necessity, there are many ways of promoting it to solve the most pressing challenges within the organization.
This blog is part of a three-part series focusing on opportunities for innovation in the nonprofit sector, authored by our Accounts Fellow, Aaron Shildrick. Read the previous blog posts, which discuss the problems to be solved in the nonprofit sector as well a other best practices for innovation success in the nonprofit sector.