Before you embark on a shared value journey at your non-profit organization, here are five tips that allow you to gain a better insight into what’s required to become ‘shared value ready’:
1. Define your organizational purpose and value proposition
Seek clarity by asking the following questions: Why do we, as an organization, exist? What do we stand for? What do we aspire to? What is our value proposition? Defining purpose gives focus and direction on how to achieve the greatest level of social impact, relevant to your sector. Defining your value proposition will identify the positioning of your organization’s offering and your competitive advantage over other, similar non-profits in your segment. In cases where organizational purpose and value have not been well defined, the impact tends to be lessened due to a scattergun, ad-hoc approach in the services delivered and/or the delivery itself.
2. Know your beneficiary segments and capture unmet needs that relate to your sector
Identify your primary and secondary beneficiary segments, i.e. the communities that benefit from your organization’s services. Ask yourself: Who do we serve? How do we go about prioritizing the delivery of our services to our segments? What products or services are lacking in that segment? What are the urgent areas of need? Do these unmet needs fit with our purpose and value proposition? What additional services could we provide? What customer problems are we solving?
3. Look to your existing suite of corporate partners for ripe shared value opportunities
Partners that have a functional alignment to your core purpose are well-equipped to meet with you and discuss a proposed shared value opportunity, as you speak the same language! Equally, try to secure partnerships with companies that have a natural affiliation with your core purpose. Identify companies you aspire to partner with and research their existing shared value / CSR / sustainability strategies to better understand the respective intersection points with your organization.
4. Review opportunities within your sector
Does your organization naturally connect with other actors from the public, non-profit and private sectors? If you are the go-to non-profit organization in your sector, consider an advisory role in the shared value space. Do you have the capacity to execute or assist with the roll-out of a shared value initiative by employing a shared value project manager who is funded by your corporate partner? Do you have in-house specialists in impact assessment and evaluation? Look for opportunities to become the research and evaluation arm of a shared value initiative.
5. Get innovating!
Embrace flexibility and respect innovative ideas. Get involved with your colleagues’ projects to cross-pollinate and promote internal ideation. If your organization is lean enough for you to have a strategic chat with your CEO next to the coffee machine, great! Recent research from the Innovation Index of the Australian NFP sector shows the most innovative non-profits have between 4-11 employees. So small is good!