Funding, Collaboration, Unity, Leadership, Sustainability, Integration: The Summit 2023 Parallel Sessions

Posted on
24 May 2023
by Emily Bourke, Campaigns and Advocacy Officer

What did we learn at the Summit 2023 parallel sessions?

As part of our annual Summit conference, we held six parallel sessions in the afternoon. Each was designed and hosted by a member of The Wheel, bringing a wealth of expertise and diverse experience to the event. Our staff attended and reported back.

1. Funding: An Introduction to Securing Strategic Corporate Partnerships, hosted by 2into3 

This session was designed to help nonprofits improve their approach to corporate partnerships. The main takeaways were: 

  • The nonprofit and business sectors don’t always understand each other and often speak ‘a different language’. This can be a real barrier to forming a meaningful collaboration. 

  • Charities looking for a collaboration should try and see the world through the company’s eyes. Understanding the needs of the business is the starting point of any collaboration. Sometimes companies are high in resources but low in ‘meaning’. For this reason, it makes sense that they would partner with a meaningful charity. 

  • Employees are more likely to stay working for companies with a purpose. Charities should engage companies on a ‘shared purpose’. Find that intersection where both of your missions meet.  

  • Download slides.

2. Collaboration: 'All in’ – Collaborating with Purpose, hosted by CES (Centre for Effective Services)  

At this session, attendees explored how to get the best out of collaboration and sustain it over time. They looked at the following points in particular: 

  • The more a group puts into collaboration collectively, the more they get out of it. Collaboration is a journey but requires consistent sustained effort to support it. The context in which any group works is unique to them. It’s worth taking the time to evaluate and understand how a group collaborates. 

  • Trust and mutual respect need to be built at the beginning of a collaboration to build a foundation. They’re fundamental to sustainability of the collaboration. Setting structures, processes, and mutual accountability are key to this. Listen to understand, rather than listen to respond. 

  • A common barrier is imbalance in input, e.g., one party feeling like they’re carrying the bulk of the work. Partnership can feel like a top-down experience. This can be a natural part of any collaboration. It’s about naming that imbalance and recognising it, to build trust between parties. 

  • Collaboration is hard. It’s hard to find the time to do it in a process. It won’t happen by magic; it must be planned and purposeful. It needs to be entered into conscientiously.  

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3. Unity in the Face of Opposition: Identifying and Countering Threats and Restrictions on Freedom of Association Facing the NGO/Community and Voluntary Sector, hosted by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties  

This panel aimed to build unity and solidarity in the sector by helping us to understand the restrictions we face and look at ambitions to remove them. It imagined what a fully enabled civic space would look like and how this could be achieved and touched on the following: 

  • How fear of being seen to oppose government policy is, to differing degrees, silencing the sector 

  • We need to come together and counteract the growth of the Far right in civil society. Communities become more polarized and these movements can have a chill effect on governments. We need to break the cycle and brave political Leadership and progressive public policy is what is needed.  

  • We need to look at calling people in to the movement and not calling out. Coming together and connecting can result in positive change and depolarize the narrative. We need to help people to distinguish between fact and fiction. If woke means being kind to people and having empathy it shouldn’t be considered a bad word .

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4. Early Career Professionals: Unifying Ambition and Action, hosted by For Purpose & 2into3  

This session looked at how our sector can realise the ambitions of early career professionals and align them with the ambitions of our organisations to build a pool of future leaders. Some main conversation points were: 

  • We need to trust people give them opportunities and give them room and space to learn and grow.

  •  Around issues with recruitment, young entry staff ARE the key to recruitment and retention.

  • Don’t underestimate the skills young people are bringing to the organisation, just because ideas are new doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

  • People will stay in an organisation if they feel that the organisation is as invested in them as they are in the organisation.

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5. Sustainability: Is it Now or Never for the SDGs? Hosted by Coalition 2030  

This session explored the challenges and opportunities for our sector as we continue on a path towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. During the discussion, the following points stood out: 

  • All panelists have highlighted that Ireland is currently facing challenges in working towards and implementing the SDGs, yet all have expressed a note of optimism, which leads us to believe that the answer to the question outlined in the session’s title is that it’s nownot never. There is still time and space to make crucial progress, but we must be aware that this time and space is quickly running out, “this is our last best chance to make progress.” 

  • Consumerism is the root problem within society which is blocking the achievement of the SDGs. Our desire to consume is having a violent, direct impact on our planet and our species. There are measures we can take to address this on an individual / organisational level, but it must be addressed seriously by the state.

  • Environmental concerns and the biodiversity crisis, and the economic, cost-of-living, social crises which we are facing are not mutually exclusive issues – we should not be expected to “trade-off” between them. This kind of rhetoric further distracts from making real progress. 

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6. Integration: Opportunities that Volunteering can Create for Multicultural Ireland, hosted by the Irish Professional Mediators Organisation (IPMO)  

The session included presentations from three different organisations, and covered topics including: 

  • The attitudes and values that people attach to overseas aid: these are justice and morality from younger cohorts of the Irish population and solidarity from older cohorts. Those that are more engaged with overseas development focus on shared humanity and human rights, while those that are less engaged speak of sympathy, charity and duty.    

  • People want to get involved in volunteering but if they do not usually engage in these circles, they are often not sure how to get involved or are worried about what is involved. People volunteer for different reasons and the volunteering space is evolving, it needs to be more accessible– task based, short-term, micro-volunteering.  

  • On traveller mediation and community mediation, experience shows that conflict resolution must take into account the cultures and values of the parties involved in the conflict. Mediation is more effective when the communities are represented in the development of mediation practices. 

  • Download slides.