Demand is growing for a place where not-for-profit leaders can discover the learning and development they need.
Australia’s not-for-profit sector is an important part of the national economy, contributing 4.8% of the gross domestic product. It is hugely diverse and employs 1.38 million people, accounting for 11% of jobs. This mission-driven sector is critical to meeting fundamental societal needs and fostering social cohesion.
To deliver on their mission, purpose-driven organisations rely ultimately on their ethically motivated and highly dedicated staff, yet they often struggle to provide the professional development opportunities that will attract and retain the right people. The importance of this “human factor” was highlighted during the COVID-19 crisis, when not-for profits delivered measurable value, mobilising rapidly to lessen the pandemic’s financial and social costs and to support people in need.
Despite huge demand, however, there are very few training opportunities specifically designed for the sector. Recent landscape analysis by the Australian Scholarships Foundation identified that well-regarded education programs, degrees and postgraduate courses, along with governance training, are so costly that they are beyond the reach of many not-for-profit organisations and their staff.
Our research collaboration with McKinsey & Company, Building from purpose: Unlocking the power of Australia’s not-for-profit sector, found the sector has always struggled with limited resources, particularly in relation to investing in organisational capabilities.
The research unearthed three capabilities requiring investment:
- Growing talent – creating a performance culture for people to grow
- Executing with excellence – establishing operational discipline to enable mission execution
- System shaping – shaping society through community connection and innovation.
At the Australian Scholarships Foundation, we aim to ensure that not-for-profit leaders have access to the same professional development opportunities their private-sector counterparts enjoy.
We have been working closely with the tertiary sector and education providers to facilitate fee-free and partially subsidised scholarships for not-for-profit staff. Training and education that embrace diversity, inclusion and support for remote and regional communities are also a priority. Bringing together the expertise of industry, government, education partners and philanthropy has enabled the Australian Scholarships Foundation to facilitate training opportunities for women, Indigenous communities and people living with disability.