Four take-aways from the 2015 Not-For-Profit People Conference you can apply to your organisation today


Two days, 23 inspiring sessions, 28 expert speakers and more than 350 passionate attendees from across the Australian NFP sector – that (and much more!) is what we’ve just experienced at the 2015 Not-For-Profit People Conference.

With so many great ideas shared and issues discussed, almost everyone left the conference feeling inspired and energised. Here’s just some of the feedback they left us:

“The calibre was fantastic, and I loved it – very worthwhile!”

“The sessions were fantastic and gave me the fresh ideas and inspiration I was looking for. Thank you!”

If you missed the conference, we hope you can join us next year! In the meantime, here are four standout ideas we picked up at the conference that you can apply to your organisation.

  1. Don’t be afraid to use creative recruitment methods

Under the leadership of CEO Ange Barry, the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation has grown from working with three schools in Victoria to more than 800 schools across the country.

Recruiting amazing staff has been a focus for Barry – and a huge contributor to the successful growth of the Foundation, which consciously challenges the ordinary when it comes to recruitment and culture.

One of our favourite take-aways from Barry’s session? Her unique approach to recruitment: bringing the office dog into interviews to gauge candidates’ responses to their relaxed team culture. Throwing an interviewee a curveball (it doesn’t have to have four legs!) can give valuable insights into their character, stress response and organisational fit in ways traditional questioning might not.

  1. Take real care of your staff and volunteers – and watch their dedication grow

Though they never advertise for volunteers, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s volunteer workforce is one of the most sought after in the country, and has an impressive dollar value of more than $7 million work hours a year. How do they do it?

According to the ASRC’s Naomi Fennell and Michelle Lawrence, fostering a sense of ownership and pride among staff and volunteers is key. Staff at all levels are responsible for training volunteers, and both are bestowed a high level of accountability. Incredibly, CEO Kon Karapanagiotidis briefs the organisation’s volunteer force for at least half an hour every day, while an in-house lunch is put on for the entire team each day too. It’s a great example of how positively – and consistently – engaging with the people working to bring your organisation’s mission to life can yield a truly powerful outcome.

  1. Cultivating optimism can improve staff performance

Have you ever asked your staff what they’re most grateful for?

The Happiness Institute’s founder and Chief Happiness Officer, Dr Timothy Sharp, emphasises the importance of making staff feel appreciated through routine optimism exercises – and it’s not as fanciful as it might sound.

In your regular team meetings, start incorporating casual gratitude exercises by asking your staff questions like ‘what are you most grateful for in your work today?’ or ‘what was the best thing that happened last week?’ Over the long term, this small practice can have a significant effect on your staff’s productivity – and the productivity of your organisation.

How? By consciously encouraging the mental wellbeing of your staff, they’ll feel better about their work and their place in your organisation. Moreover, Dr Sharp claims optimists perform better in every situation – even more reason to make workplace wellbeing a priority.

  1. Focus on purpose

How often do you and your organisations staff step back and focus on your organisation’s broader purpose?

In the conference’s opening keynote address, that was the question posed by World Vision CEO Tim Costello. He says it’s easy to get caught up in chasing targets and losing sight of the big picture along the way. The challenge for many not-for-profits is to keep their people focused on their larger purpose.

His approach is simple: focus on your purpose, and happiness and goal accomplishment will follow. As Costello says of the NFP sector as a whole: “We are the guardians of purpose”.

Were you at the NFP People Conference? Did you learn something you’d like to share with those who couldn’t make it? Please share in the comments below!

Missed out this year? We’re planning another NFP People Conference in 2016, so be sure to watch this space!

Not-For-Profit People Conference 2015 – photos

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