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Saturday, 7 July 2012

Changing Your Organisation – The Australian Charities Not-for-profits Commission

The upcoming ‘launch’ of the CNC will present a substantive challenge to many organizations within this sector. These challenges will directly impact on how such organisations adapt their existing internal and external reporting frameworks, which, in many circumstances, impacts not only the management of these organizations but also their boards.

The reasons publicly given for the major reforms are well known. The economic impact of the sector alone, dictates that change must occur. The relative size of the sector in the context of the Australian economy is, as I have written in the past, somewhat out of kilter with comparative Western economies in the context of the sheer number of NFPs on a per capita basis. The long term sustainability of many within this sector continues to challenge their ability to match values and mission with operational capacity. Not to mention of course the contextual problems associated with ongoing donor fatigue and the well publicized, poor, philanthropic leanings of the Australian population, again, when compared to other wealthy Western economies.

When considered in this light, the changes coming down the pipeline are both potentially complex but needed. The question of whether the CNC in its current proposed form and in the political context of an unpopular minority government facing an election in the near term, and a political environment that appears to deny the application of real social ‘vision’, on a range of fronts, can deliver, is not the issue that requires the attention of those trying to implement a tough course of action that may have far reaching consequences. At the end of the day, this sector needs to address these challenges and start looking at itself with some effective navel gazing and consider how they, individually, can achieve what they need to achieve in order to serve those that they serve in the broader community.

So the questions that each NFP, its executive, its board, needs to consider, is what can we do to ensure that our organisations can adapt to this changing landscape over the course of the next few years.

The impetus for change, in this context is clear. Given that one of the key reasons that change efforts in many organisations, irrespective of whether they are in the NFP or the for-profit sector, fail, is due to the lack of an appropriate cause-and-effect relationship. In essence, there must be a sound reason for wanting to change. As has been well recognized in much of the change literature, the simpler and clearer the basic goal of the change management process is, the more likely it will be to take hold within the organisation, largely related to the ability for change communication to be far more easily applied and understood. This also opens up the ability for a larger representation of involvement from within the organisation, thereby encouraging involvement, participation and potentially acceptance.

As many in the NFP sector attest, the range of changes that may be proposed over the course of the next few years will challenge many organisations. To what extent is your organisation ready to not only adapt to the myriad of changes in a reactive manner, but also to what extent is your organisation ready to embrace change in a proactive manner, seeking to bring change to your organisation with the aim of ensuring your ongoing provision of services to the communities that you seek to currently serve as well as those that you wish to serve in the future?

OPTIMUM NFP works within the field of change management and has been doing so within the NFP sector successfully over a number of years developing change processes and frameworks that enable such organisations to bring their strengths into the management of change.

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