Summit 2022: What We Learned About Funding, Governance, HR, and EU Programmes

Posted on
3 Jun 2022
by The Wheel

We sent note-takers to each of the breakout sessions at Summit 2022 to bring back the key learnings and ideas that emerged from each panel. Read on for a short summary of the big takeaways.

The Future of Funding for the Sector

  •  Covid refocused the value of the C&V sector and strengthened the relationship between partners: DRCD, the C&V sector and communities. The sector was integral to COVID response at a community level 

  • The upcoming challenge for the sector is resourcing the sector to ensure that it continues to deliver essential services. 

  • Current grants landscape is recognising the strength of a partnership approach when applying for supports, e.g organisations within a community working together to achieve a common goal. This will be important going forward in the context of delivering on our climate ambitions. 

  •  The focus of DRCD supports in the coming years will be delivering on SDGs and ensuring that in achieving our ambitions, the more marginalised in our community are not left behind. 

  • Creating community buy-in to a project involves creating a vision, stimulating community engagement through fun and innovative approaches. Transparency and communications are key.  

  • At a corporate level there is a shift from CSR to ESG (environmental and social governance reporting). We need more collaborations between corporates and nonprofits to deliver projects around diversity and inclusion. 

  • Effective fundraising strategies need to focus on 1) achieving long term goals 2) keeping the donor central to the process 3) learning from models in other organisations/countries.

Boards Behaving Badly and Domineering CEOs

  •  Governance and board issues are universal across the sector but people often feel isolated and alone when they have problems. It’s vital to speak up and seek help from independent sources, networks, others in your position. Early intervention important. 

  •  Problems identified from both sides: lack of mutual understanding; organisations struggling to recruit people to boards – not always able to achieve an ideal mix; boards are often stressed out an under pressure with new Governance Code – can result in grilling of CEO; lack of delegation to sub committees to ease pressure 

  •  Ways to address these problems: strategize; introduce new board members/better balance; bringing in independent mentor or advisor; address lack of structure; Governance Code provides lots of practical ways to improve the relationship and to entrench structures; look to long term organisational change if a short term problem really can’t be solved; always consider your own behaviour first when solving conflict; sometimes introducing fun and informality in between structure and strategy can benefit relationships. 

  •  Importance of shared values and respect between board members, CEO and employees – filters down and impacts the whole organisation. Encourage shared training with board and CEO together. Both parties need support. Maintain aspect of humanity in board interactions. 

  •  Aims of the organisation must always underpin the actions of the board – can prove difficult when they are volunteers and not living and breathing the daily life of the organisation. Important to prioritise this. Don’t forget why people volunteer – want to make a positive difference. 

HR Practices and our Changed Workplaces

  •  Ways of Working – A lot of challenge on the ground, around staffing, unmanageable employee expectations.

  • Human Side of change –Should we create a culture that supports change, reactive vs proactive – attempting to make our teams more curious. We need to be okay with failure, honest true reflection.

  • Gender dimension in a hybrid setting – will women show up in the office long term.

  • Hybrid needs more investment – very little funding and hardest to make a case for. Organisations need to make a case to donors about more support. Investment in our leaders and in our management is important.

  • Recruitment & Retention – Where you can make your team feel valued – do it. Examples of change: Menopause Policy, Paid Leave for fertility appointments and for miscarriages. All add to an employee’s perception of value.

  • Top tips for Recruitment & Retention – display the salary be transparent, flexibility is key, don’t rule out people who won’t work 5 days a week.

  • Every organisation needs to take part in The Wheel's Pay & Benefits survey in mid-June. Your input helps us influence and make change.

  • Culture is tangible, has a great impact on the outputs of the organisation. Employee engagement is bi-directional – good engagement, good outcomes. Mark the small things for your employees – let them know you care.

Meet Ireland's EU Project Managers

A huge THANKS to the EU project managers from our network supporting this session! The session organised by the Access Europe team was an opportunity for peer learning and provided a space for exchange and discussion after two years of pandemic 

Challenges people face when starting with EU funding: 

  • Main concern is building partnerships; finding partners in other EU countries is a hurdle 

  • Understanding the complex structure of EU funding 

  • Finding the appropriate EU programme for their particular project idea 

Access Europe is here to help with everything around EU funding and provide individual support for you when starting out on your EU journey!