Stepping stones – Envisioning what’s next for building talent

With contributions from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and PwC, the Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) hosted two rich conversations to consider how best to strengthen nonprofit sector talent today and build talent for strong and vibrant communities of tomorrow.

Envisioning talent needs 25 years from now

Through a day long foresight exercise, a small thoughtful group of younger professionals from different sectors were brought together to explore what communities may look like 25 years from now. Turning the focus to the people in these communities, their interests and ways of working, the following themes emerged:

  • More people are becoming entrepreneurs because of changes to political and economic systems that are putting more onus on individuals
  • With the increase of entrepreneurs a sense of isolation is experienced as work is increasingly being done remotely and through contracts
  • The traditional educational system will no longer be relevant as an experiential and customized learning approach is adopted

Building talent for the nonprofit sector

Given the important role nonprofit organizations play in building strong and vibrant communities today, the second conversation focused on how to support the vitality of nonprofit sector talent.

Over 50 people – invited because they currently play a role in this context – participated in a 2 day National Conversation.  Several key points surfaced through the discussions and challenged participants to reconsider their perspectives:

  • Talent to what end?  How does our work today fit with what we will need tomorrow? What is our vision for the sector in 2050?
  • Are we prepared to look at everything differently, be innovative?
  • Cooperation and collaboration are critical – at a level we aren’t used to.
  • We need to be our own champions and consider ourselves an essential service.
  • This work is important and being intentional about it is critical. Who will put skin in the game?

Twelve themes were also identified as needing attention and focused work.

  1. Identifying and carrying out national level work
  2. Positioning the nonprofit sector as employers of choice (Brand)  
  3. Leveraging current efforts on leadership development  
  4. Developing data and information about sector people, skills, needs and opportunities
  5. Shaping policy directions
  6. Keeping on top of technology trends
  7. Looking differently at nonprofit sector work and talent – Creative ways to adjust to today’s realities  
  8. Supporting good people practices
  9. Engaging new sources of talent
  10. Engaging younger workers
  11. Engaging older (legacy) workers
  12. Fostering skills development through organizations and postsecondary institutions

Your foundation’s role in building talent

By sharing this information, our intent is to offer everyone the chance to find their stepping stones in this journey. Perhaps you are new to this conversation or knee deep in efforts. If you need a place to start, consider how you build the capacity of talent in your own foundation, then reflect on how you are or consider how you could contribute to collective efforts.

Community Foundation of Nova Scotia, a participant in the National Conversation, as an example is collecting and sharing information about nonprofits through Vital Signs. A small working group made up of Imagine Canada, Ontario Nonprofit Network, Community Initiatives Fund and Community Foundations of Canada are also initiating activities to build the sector’s capacity to carry out national level work. Being involved in this area of work is just one of the many ways foundations are and can continue to build strong and healthy communities across Canada.

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