ForPurpose Banner x charter point transp 1 cbnI’ve been working with For Purpose organisations for the past 10 years and I have seen many changes and challenges over that time. However over the last 18 months the pace, significant nature and impact of change has been quite surprising. A quick review of what other For Purpose and NFPs are experiencing clearly demonstrates that I’m not alone in thinking this. As of December 2018, there were 56, 650 registered charities and over 550,000 Not for Profit organisations in Australia – those that think that the status quo will remain in place, need to think again. 

These are just some of the key challenges and opportunities we will all be facing in 2019:

1. Funding:

Funding and sustainability will always be the number one priority, but as the traditional forms of funding (such as donations) continue to dry up, where to next? Do you have income generating activities? How do you put strategies in place without the correct governance or staffing?

2. Clarity of Purpose:

This tells your members, supporters and target audience why you exist, what you do and why you do it. But it should also set success measures and how you as an organisation perform against those. These measures will become more pertinent for government and corporates when making decisions about who to support with potential funding. Having a board that can clearly set strategic objectives in a rapidly changing environment, articulate and communicate that message and identify potential support and funding partnerships will be increasingly important.

3. Staffing and HR Management:

The competition to engage and retain good staff continues to hot up. Experienced people are highly sought after and are moving around more often, while new younger recruits have very different expectations of what the work experience should be. The one size fits all model of employment no longer works and there will be an increase in contractors, freelancers and interns working alongside full time staff and the ever decreasing pool of volunteers. This will put more pressure on HR staff, systems and the overall strategic direction and planning for organisations. However, it will also provide an opportunity to think more creatively about partnership and back end administration operations.

4. Corporate governance:

There are a number of trends that boards should be looking at to stay ahead of the challenges:

· Diversity; and this is not just in relation to gender, but also skills and the ability to adapt to changing demands from members and regulators.

· Environmental and social governance and the impact of activities on these key economic measures will also be important.

· Innovation is a bit of a buzzword, but the uptake of technology to improve processes and manage costs is something to consider. Can partnerships improve the ability to use technology and organisational reach?

· Crisis management is not something anyone likes to deal with, but living in a 24/7 world where people can voice their opinions on a number of social platforms anytime and anywhere, means risk management is becoming a much bigger priority.

· Succession planning to deal with a changing environment. Board members are generally involved because they are passionate about a cause, but as the economics become tougher sometimes passion isn’t enough.

5. Communications:

Success and sustainability is based on relationships, trust and an emotional connection with your support base. Communicating your organisations story through relevant channels and by using stories that are focused will be essential. The simple message of ‘we are here to help’ is no longer strong enough to have your voice heard over the many other NFP and For Purpose organisations you are competing with. Additionally there are now multiple channels you now need to communicate through.

Times are changing, but it as a time of great opportunity for those organisations with a strong, skilled and focused board and management team, who are prepared to look at options outside the norm to make their organisations stronger and even more relevant to those they service.

About Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre
Lighthouse has a strong track record of supporting entrepreneurs, researchers and inventers on the path from concept to commercialisation. Since July 2008, Lighthouse has worked with over 990 distinct enterprises and provided group and peer based services to over 3400 enterprises and individuals. For over five years Lighthouse has successfully delivered business advice, education, mentorship and networking opportunities to help these businesses commercialise their ideas and grow their companies. Lighthouse also delivers programs such as the ACT Microcredit Program for the ACT Government. Visit for more information.


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