Your organization may provide service or you may advocate. It’s combining the two that will make you a visionary leader of the future.
“Ultimately, all high-impact organizations bridge the divide between service and advocacy. They become good at both. And the more they serve and advocate, the more they achieve impact.” Stanford Social Innovation Review By Heather McLeod Grant & Leslie R. Crutchfield Fall 2007
That quote is 10 years old. Over time we have seen a gradual shift away from organizations limiting their work to providing temporary fixes to long-term problems. Forward looking nonprofits take a bigger view, looking for solutions to local or global issues.
Your work as a visionary leader is to get others to share your view. You speak for the population you serve. That’s advocacy.
Advocate and Serve
Let’s go back to the idea of Vision for a minute. If you have a clear vision – an idea of how you want the world to be changed because of your work – then you are inspired to look for solutions. You are inspired to advocate for change.
This is the point when organizations begin to collaborate.
Many organizations formed in the 1970s and 1980s provided temporary solutions for homelessness and poverty including food and shelter. Over the course of 30 years there was no significant impact on the rates of people living in poverty or becoming homeless. That realization caused communities to come together and create 2020 initiatives. These are collaborative and measured efforts to conquer a lingering societal problem.
With this example, it is easy to see why service and advocacy go hand in hand.
Explore what it would look like if your organization was both a service provider and an advocate for those you serve.