Building Leadership And Capacity

Building Leadership And Capacity

Anu Prasad, Founder CEO, ILSS, 0

Prior to setting up ILSS in 2017, Anu was the founding Deputy Dean of the prestigious Young India Fellowship (YIF) and a founding member of Ashoka University, India’s first liberal arts university. Before joining the social sector, Anu held leadership roles at multinational companies such as American Express and TNT.

While we have a long way to go with regard to social equity and justice, efforts for the same are in numerous. It has spanned across the country and is diverse in its domain- from grassroots empowerment to Government partnered undertakings at scale. If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us anything, it is that the social sector and its tireless forces are the first at the frontlines, working for relief and the maintenance of basic access through times of crisis.

At a time when funding is massively diverted for COVID-related relief, and many in the sector have lost their jobs, we must remember the importance of fostering leadership and talent to lead during these turbulent times. For Social Purpose Organizations, capacity building serves as an investment in organizational growth, resilience, and sustainability, rather than a cost.

Non-profits need to be sustainable for a far reaching and measurable impact. Sustainability can only be achieved when the leadership within the organization has a long-term vision for success and impact. A systemic gap in investing in leadership development threatens organizational sustainability. A lack of leadership development in the sector leads to organizations that are founder-driven. Between an overdependence on a single leader, often the founder, the lack of a second line of leadership and the glaring skill gap, limited organizational leadership skills reduce both, the life span and efficiency of non-profit.

If India has to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals towards realise a more equitable form of development, then the role of civil society organisations cannot be ignored. The sector needs investments of different kinds: money, people and intent. We need skilled and sensitive
citizens who can passionately contribute in meaningful ways to the sector. However, in the past, non-profit organisations have not been considered aspirational as they were unable to rival, culturally and monetarily, the dazzling corporate world. This has been slowly changing over the last couple of year with.

Rise of social businesses and social enterprises.
The social sector is no longer limited to only NGOs. With the startup boom hit in India, it has also opened gates for young social entrepreneurs to bring innovative models into the sector to drive change. SELCO, an enterprise providing innovative solar energy solutions, is a prime example of a social business striving to solve the problem of energy scarcity in rural India.

The funding landscapes.
The rise of philanthropy and investment from high net worth individuals is also pushing the sector to recalibrate its strategy and organizational structures, making it conducive for talent to enter into the sector. According to the 2019 Bain Report, philanthropic giving has grown some 11% since 2015.While that doesn’t account for the effect of the pandemic, it is an indicator of changing social priorities and patterns.

We need skilled and sensitive citizens who can passionately contribute in meaningful ways to the sector

CSR law
mandates corporates to invest/contribute to the social sector. The funding flow has created an opportunity for non-profits to not only access more funds, but also work with the funders in designing and evolving models for impact that help in measuring effectiveness internally as well as with external stakeholders.

At the sectoral level, there is a growing recognition among organisations to invest in leadership with various programs on developing leadership and the capacity with incubators. Accelerators run by non-profit organisations and universities expanding their courses, aimed at the social sector. have also been a great push in the right direction.

Through an unprecedented crisis, the development sector has remained resilient and continues to fight for the vision of India as an equitable society. The pandemic has exposed not only our own ability to swiftly adapt and respond to hardship, but also a shift in the larger mindset. The focus now toward building organizational capacity and individual skill is needed for sustainability.