Zahra’s Key Take-aways and Insights from the Q3 2019 Social Sector Networking Event.

I had the pleasure of attending the quarterly Social Sector Networking event organized by the Philanthropy Circuit and the Young Adult Professionals & Entrepreneurs (YAP&E) association in collaboration with the Ford Foundation and the Chris Ogunbanjo Foundation on the 26th of September 2019.

It was an excellent event and a real melting pot of various people within the Social Sector from Founders, to Finance Professionals to Executives of large NGOs, doing amazing work in Nigeria.

What I loved most about the event

I loved that it was a true networking event. It delivered what it said on the tin. There was a great atmosphere throughout the event and the quality of people in attendance exceeded my expectations. I was surrounded by passionate, like-minded individuals doing real work in the sector and eager to collaborate, learn and share their experiences. I found this to be refreshing and very beneficial.

It was an amazing networking opportunity and I left with real connections and insights which I’ve already started leveraging in my professional work.

Another bonus was that it started on time and ran for two hours from 10am to 12pm which is perfect for busy professionals and totally worth the time investment.

My key take-aways from the event

During the event, we were divided into groups to discuss various topics around our theme for the day: Agenda 2030 – Accelerating the implementation of the SGDs.

The three main take-aways I gathered from our discussion were:

1.   We need to stop working in silos – you’ll find that various little groups are doing exactly the same work in the same communities. We need to collaborate more so we can scale and have a larger impact. We need to let go of our egos and ask ourselves “is there already an organisation serving this group/ doing the work which I’d like to do?” If the answer is “yes”, then we need to start plugging into initiatives which already exist instead of starting new ones. A consolidated voice is needed if we stand any chance of achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. We need to identify and aggregate organisations serving similar communities. Even if they are focussing on different social issues, they can collaborate and economise money and effort by synchronising their activities.

The collaboration between Philanthropy Circuit, Ford Foundation, the Chris Ogunbanjo Foundation and YAP&E is a prime example of the benefits of collaboration, coming together, leveraging one-another’s strengths and working to achieve a shared goal.

2.   We need to start capturing data, telling our stories and sharing our successes – we found that organizations in the social sector are doing some amazing work which often no one knows about. We need to start advocating for ourselves and taking PR and marketing more seriously as they open doors for other opportunities and help to build up credibility with professionals and actors in the other sectors. We also need to invest in data capturing and reporting so that when we share our success stories, we also back it up with real data on the impact we are having in our communities. These data-driven insights can further be used to enhance decision making in the sector instead of basing our decisions on emotions. Through data-driven insights we will make a larger impact and create more actionable solutions to the social problems we seek to eradicate.

3.   We need to attract more talent into the sector to fill the skills gap – this was a major issue that was identified. There is a real gap in the required talent to drive some of the radical change which is needed to achieve the 2030 SDGs. Private sector and government collaboration, skill-sharing and investment is vital to the growth of the Social Sector. Having the right technical competencies and capabilities is essential to driving change. We need more competent professionals with skills in strategic planning, data-analytics, programme managements, fund-raising, public policy and advocacy, administration, accounting and finance, PR and marketing and so much more to come together to support the efforts of Social Sector organisations in Nigeria.

This article was first published on LinkedIn by Zahra Z. Abdulkareem.

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