What does the future hold for charity leadership development? Leaders Now blog from Shaks Ghosh; second leadership report

What does the future hold for leadership development in our sector?

Posted on September 30, 2016

It seems to me that the pace of change in our sector is faster than it’s ever been. Change provides an opportunity to review the past; to understand what was useful and what could have been done differently. Change is also an opportunity for growth. In the midst of all this movement, we wanted to investigate social sector leadership development, and having already looked at the past in our first report, we now look to the future in our second report.   

So what does the future hold? Leadership Development in the Third Sector: Facing the Future, seeks to answer this question by considering the challenges we collectively face, while also illustrating some of the opportunities available to us - both now and in years to come.  

There’s no escaping the headlines: Brexit is the greatest unknown the UK is facing. We don’t fully understand the implications of this for our sector, though there has been some speculation. What we do know is that having already lived through times of austerity, there will be massive financial implications from it, which will affect the people our charities our serve through reduced funding and resources.

Then there are the complexities of our growing and aging population. Currently our sector fills a lot of gaps in civil society, and capacity is already stretched to the max. The long-term impact of the country’s changing demographics will demand much more from our sector, and we need strong leadership to cleverly utilise resources without jeopardising good service.

Although our population is indeed aging, these older people also present us with a unique and rich opportunity: volunteers. Over 15.2 million people volunteer in the UK, and this figure is likely to grow in the coming years with increasing numbers of more experienced older people wishing to share their expertise and skills. As budgets get tighter this will be a huge resource for our sector; this trend has already been spotted by Nesta UK who are ensuring these older volunteers are supported.  

On the opposite end of the age spectrum we have millenials. Much has been made of these socially aware and technically savvy 18 to 34 year olds, but what does this mean to charities, and why should we care?

Firstly, the uptake of digital in our sector is starkly low, so employing younger digitally-minded staff will help leapfrog our technical capacity, and hopefully create new digital innovations in service provision and fundraising. Coupled with this is the millennial mindset that apparently demands and cultivates a much more diversified leadership landscape built on the foundations of collaboration. At Clore Social we have first-hand experience of this collaborative ethos with the recent launch of our Clore6 programme to find future leaders for youth charities, and we hope to see much more of this.

Future gazing is useful to a point, particularly in terms of spotting trends and opportunities, but we are left with many more questions than answers about the state of leadership development in our sector. Two of the most pertinent questions for me are: Where do we go from here? And how do we get there? These questions will be the focus of our final, yet to be published, report.  

I invite you to read our second report, and in the spirit of thoughtful debate, we are keen to hear your views either by submitting blog ideas for Leaders Now, commenting below or joining the conversation on Twitter @CloreSocial.

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