Twice, I met a group of community organizations and I asked if I can attend their interagency meeting. I got the impression that they don’t like somebody such as a business joining them. I tested the sign. It says, "everyone is welcome." Apparently, it is not.
In the non-profit world, there is a love-hate relationship towards businesses.
Are you selling your business to us? Is that what you are going to do?
Well, everyone is selling right?
Non-profits sell their programs and services.
Sell their organization to volunteers and donors.
Sell their behavior change ideas.
Sell their causes and perspectives.
Sell their goodness.
Sell their books, magazines, concerts.
Sell their FB, twitter, Linkedin posts.
Sell their gala nights, raffles, and fundraising events.
When desperate, bite the bullet, sell short of itself.
Aren’t we all selling something, one way or another?
Even if you are not working for another person, organization or working for yourself, you are still selling something.
Perhaps an idea about something that matters to the people you care about, your community, your country, the world at large.
Everyone is selling something.
There is always the appropriate time, place, and condition to do that. Being spammy is not one of them.
When gate keepers tell you that selling is not allowed. Tell them, aren't you selling too? That could twist the paradigm right there.
I have the privilege to mentor young professionals and graduating students wanting to enter the social change sector. Most of the questions relate to differentiation- being able to win the job, get attention from recruiters, get the foot on the door so to speak! I have 5 tips on the get-go but this is not exhaustive nor it pretends to be.
Standing out in this field is very important. With any profession, early differentiation should be done even while you are studying. It is the commitment to rise above average and be the best you can be.
1. Showcase what you have done in the field of practice that you want to get into. Showcase the internships that you have done, the projects and writings that speak for that, and the interests, hobbies, and interactions that align to that sector or work. Your gig should also point to something concrete, long-term, and purposeful.
2. Showcase the personality that you have. While skills can be learned and over time, master, your personality & character might be the one that will get you noticed. Are your personality, traits, and outlook match the sector or the employment you want to be considered for? Are you comfortable with non-linear, dynamic and fluid environment (not to say, messy!) of the social sector? Do you have the grit to stand up, brush yourself up each time your fall?
3. Network, network, network. Seek out mentors, influencers, and peers in your sector and how they can help you get more information about the work you wanted or the types of new jobs being created on a yearly basis. Do not be passive about your achievements. Let them know you are looking for work, looking to be involved in special projects, or volunteering your time to worthy causes that show your leadership skills and initiative. Get out there and show up!
4. Create a compelling CV and objective for employment. Try new forms of resume that speaks not just the degree you have but the extra-curricular roles that you have in the course of your studies. Also provide references and testimonials from professors and professionals that knew your work. Get information interviews and try to seek out people who have interesting career adventures/twist and turns.
5. Know the sector very well. Research about the rules of practice, the current challenges, pain points, and trends and opportunities. This information will be very handy come interview time. Showcase what you know about the sector in your writing, blogs, and social media interactions. Keep learning and sharpen your perspectives.
What do you think are the must-haves or must-do's to get a competitive edge in the social change sector? Why not add to this initial list?
If you are reading the blog posts, you might have read the previous blog on What results? This blog is a continuation of that perspective. A good question to ask is, whose results are we talking about?
Traditional evaluation would look at the organization that is the one who have put the motion into place, therefore they own and control the evaluation process. The evaluation is geared towards understanding their pathway to achievement of their program results through a series of activities that are implemented by the sponsoring organization. The knowledge that will come out of the evaluation will be managed and enjoyed by the organization including the information, lessons learned, and as a requirement its accountability to its funders, donors, and partners. They can ask partners to participate in the process only as information sources to verify and validate their results hypothesis.
At the end of the day, they are the ones responsible to their donors and funders in terms of how monies and resources were spent efficiently and effectively. Most of the time, the practice is that they would hire an external evaluator to do this process and most often the case, the reports are shared only to those that matter to the organization, to the Board, staff, and funders that funded the particular program/project. While there will be sharing of post-evaluation findings, they control how the performance story will spin and who and where it will land. If the result of the evaluation is lack luster, probably the report will just be shelved for further information sharing at a later schedule.
Recent evaluation practice has evolved significantly that are more developmental, context-based, gender-informed & participatory in nature. They account for the dynamic, fluid, and unpredictable environment where evaluation is rendered, mostly appropriate in the social change sector. The approach to solving social problems are such that it is developmental, where no one single organization can account for moving the needle, and that countless interventions would be more iterative, than one-off intervention model /silver bullet approach to solution.
Participatory evaluation takes evaluation at the next level. It is rooted in the understanding the evaluation is not just for the sponsoring organization but that partners are very much part and core of the evaluation process. They just don’t extricate information from them but are co-owners, co-controllers, and co-partners in learning and knowledge sharing. Participatory evaluation has higher forms of utilization, relevance, and potency for transformation. When this happens, local partners get the most bang for the buck so to speak, because learning is not deposited in the head office but in the lives of communities who are living and breathing laboratories of change.
Is your evaluation process aware and using newer evaluation approaches? What challenges did you face along the way? What evaluation questions are not being asked?
If you enjoyed this blog, there are related topics that you might also enjoy;)
Results.. What results?
The Perversity of Measures
Community education ensures sustainability