Keri-Leigh Paschal is the Executive Trustee and Co-Founder of the Nation Builder Trust
The last two years have been rough, to put it mildly. Nobody was ready for Covid-19, yet the development sector stood tall throughout it all trying to meet the needs of those who bore the brunt of its effects. Even before the pandemic, the development sector experienced a shortage of resources, but most NPOs were coping, even if barely.
And then Covid. Uncertainty, chaos and hard times for most, with our most vulnerable communities the hardest hit, as always. Non-profit organisations faced a stark choice: Either keep doing what they’ve always done, or innovate, reorientate support services, and find creative ways to meet the unique needs and challenges that have arisen.
Many stepped up to meet this challenge, and are beginning to see the fruits.
In general, NPOs were reminded of the importance of partnership and collaboration. Once the first few weeks of lockdown had passed and crisis relief efforts had stabilised, many NPOs narrowed and redefined their goals, streamlined their purposes, and honed their strengths. With better-defined goals, and a laser-sharp focus on what they do best, they could form strategic partnerships with other organisations, ultimately resulting in greater impact and reach.
In addition, we saw some interesting technological advancements in the tools and techniques used by NPOs.
For example, one of the organisations that Nation Builder partners with was able to focus on the development of a measuring tool for work being done with orphans and vulnerable children. The tool is a game changer for people who work in this sector, yielding valuable insights into what works and what does not.
Another NPO came up with brilliant early childhood development storybooks in video format to circulate via WhatsApp. These videos are especially valuable to families who do not have access to large amounts of data, and those where parental support at home is limited. The videos teach the foundational skills that children need in order to read and write, and enable children to keep on learning, no matter where they are or what the circumstances may be.
These are just two of the amazing technological advancements that have emerged during the past eighteen months. Good has come from bad, which is why Nation Builder wants to highlight ‘beacons of light’ in the midst of the pandemic at this year’s In Good Company conference.
Nation Builder’s 7th annual In Good Company Conference is themed ‘Light in the Tunnel’. We may not be on the other side of Covid yet, but when we do get there, we may be pleasantly surprised to see the acceleration and growth in our sector, owing to the innovations and creativity that have blossomed during this challenging season.
The conference will take place on the mornings of Thursday, 16 September and Friday, 17 September. Attendees can look forward to an exciting line-up of interesting speakers:
- Bruce Whitfield: How chaos and uncertainty breed opportunity in South Africa.
- Abdullah Verachia: Gearing up for disruption; resetting the now; gearing up for the next.
- Olefile Masangane: Storytelling – a simple but effective tool for change.
- Bridget Evans: Strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
- Richard Perez: Embracing design thinking as a mindset to drive co-creation and innovation.
In addition, Nation Builder will be talking to a host of NPOs and social investors that have come up with innovative ideas and tools to steer their organisations forward.
The main aim of the conference is to inspire and celebrate our sector, and to equip and connect attendees so that they can learn from each other, support each other, and partner well.
A healthy society needs a strong network of connected and engaged social development organisations, all sharing from, learning, and adding value to one another.
Why not join this positive, forward-looking online conference?
For more information, go to https://proudnationbuilder.co.za/igc-2021-virtual-conference/ (Special rates apply for NPOs.)