Give as you Live sponsored the IoF National Convention this week and our keynote speaker Mike Rowlands, Founder & President of Octopus Strategies, came over from Canada and gave valuable insight into how to tackle third sector problems, using successful case studies from throughout North America.
His speech focused on four main principles, all of which are important in helping the third sector. Firstly, Mike outlined four levels of problems that we face in many areas of our lives. The Cynefin framework’s first tier is ‘simple problems,’ such as fundraising for a single project or program. ’Chaotic problems’ are the most difficult, and arise in the aftermath of tsunamis and other catastrophic events. In his speech, Mike focused on ‘complex problems’ that fundraisers face. These are large issues, in which causal relationships are only identifiable in retrospect, and which can only be resolved through the combined effort of multiple parties.
Mike argues that no single individual or organization can independently implement a solution to complex problems, as the issues are multifaceted and evolve too fast. Instead, engaging in collaborations is crucial. Charities need to work together and draw on their skills and knowledge, which is starting to happen effectively in major campaigns in North America. Mike used the Rainforest Solutions Project as a case study, in which a group of organisations worked together to preserve the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada. It took 10 years, but through collaborating and playing to their strengths, they were successful in protecting and preserving an ecosystem the size of Ireland on Canada’s unblemished west coast.
Over the next day or two we will be blogging about the other ways that we can work towards solving complex problems, so watch this space.