Giving Compass’ Take:
• Writing for Stanford Social Innovation Review, Community Wealth Partners president Sara Brenner discusses how building trust and shifting the culture in nonprofits can have a big impact.
• Are we doing enough to push back on “the old ways” of doing things? How much are organizations within the sector willing to go with bold, risky ideas?
Six years ago, when I met Karen Ortiz, vice president of early-grade success initiatives at Helios Education Foundation, I quickly realized that she was one of the most courageous and passionate early childhood advocates of our time. She was championing the Arizona Early Childhood Alliance, a statewide collaborative effort with the goal of developing a culture integrated early childhood system to help children succeed and to transform education and health outcomes.
Ortiz knew, however, that to make a dramatic change in the lives of Arizona children, and to pivot from strategy to action, the collaborative would require a new type of leadership: one owned by several community organizations and stakeholder groups representing nonprofits, foundations, government agencies, and local businesses that embraced the shared outcome of early childhood success. She knew that a shared culture was necessary to achieve their desired results.
Enter culture-building, or the practice of building trust, aligning a group to believe in the change, defining ways of working or sets of behaviors that will lead to the desired results, and creating the space to take risks, innovate, and give and receive feedback to productively evolve the culture.
Many collaborative leaders have begun to embrace culture as a critical part of their efforts, but culture is complex and difficult work. It requires leaders of diverse groups to be vulnerable with each other, be open to change — within themselves and within their organizations — and be honest about how power dynamics can distract us from what matters, or deter the pace of change. Therefore, culture work can help us deal with interpersonal dynamics between leaders, and relations among organizations and within the community.
Read the full article about changing nonprofit culture by Sara Brenner from the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
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