Barriers to innovation and exchange

I don't want to start off on too negative a note, but what are the barriers to innovation in nonprofit organisations, that might be tackled as part of the innovation exchange programme? Here's a few I've come across.

  • "We have always done it that way". The authors of a US book and blog of that name look at the behaviour of associations and offer 101ways to do things differently. I think many translate well to the UK.
  • "It's the fault of the funders". Charities that depend on substantial grants can end up looking to their funders, rather than those they aim to benefit, for direction. The funders, of course, have their own agendas, and may or may not be in touch with changing needs.
  • "The members won't stand for it"... which can be an issue if the members pay substantial fees, or contribute their time as volunteers. But has anyone asked them?
  • "The Board won't stand for it". This can be significant if the trustees of a charity are out of touch, meeting relatively infrequently, and are rather staid in their ways. Chief officers and staff have to consider whether to try and by-pass them, or go for some fundamental changes that may take time and end up with acrimonious disputes.

Am I right? Any other examples ... and even better, any ideas to tackle these issues?


exclusion within the sector is a barrier

I'd hope this initiative might avoid increasing the gulf between the professionalised voluntary sector and organisations in the community sector. Many commorgs are trying without resources to get themselves organised without boards, funders or sometimes indeed a tradition of ways of doing things. One of the dangers in the otherwise-welcome attention being paid to third sector entrepreneurship is that it may be much harder to take advantage of, if you're in a position of deprivation: it follows that there is a risk of increasing philanthropic approaches rather than inclusive and participative approaches. Sorry to go all theoretical right at the outset (!) but I suppose the question is, can we develop innovative proposals which help make the strengths of the whole wealth of third sector agencies - not just the professionalised ones - into a collective resource which all can draw on?

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