Most of us agree the health and wellness of our not-for-profit organizations is inextricably tied to our quality of life. Our not-for-profits bring us together in spirit, education, artistic expression, health and wellness, sport and advocacy. The collective efforts of these groups, and their supporters, truly make Vancouver a world-class city.It’s little wonder bright new talent is increasingly making not-for-profit their first career choice. And it's good timing too – since many current leaders are nearing retirement. These young professionals are hungry to learn, eager to advance, and focused on making an impact. And, at times, they challenge the traditional modus operandi.
Unfortunately, the not-for-profit sector is woefully unprepared for this influx of new talent. Staff have often spent years building existing structures as they worked their way up to leadership positions. Relevant professional development programs are scarce, requests for increased responsibility are met with lectures on patience or "doing the time", and new ideas are often dismissed as unexperienced daydreams.
Now more than ever, our community organizations require as much talent, creativity, passion and innovation as possible. And yet, we often stifle the creativity of young professionals who are keen to contribute. Are we confident our traditional approaches will create the most vibrant and engaged community possible? Can we really afford to miss out on this new wave of talent? From my perspective, the answer is no. The opportunity cost is far too great.
The Next Leaders Network is one response to this situation. It aims to inspire and build leadership in the not-for-profit sector through aspiring young not-for-profit professionals. The Network provides a space these individuals can connect, learn, teach, dream – and act. It is only one answer. There are many other possibilities for enhancing the capacity of our not-for-profit community; much, much more could be done.
So ask yourself – what skills, experience and knowledge can you contribute? Which young professional(s) can you encourage and mentor? How can you offer innovative ideas and bring a fresh perspective to our community organizations?