This era of rapid and accelerating change affects World Vision and our peers in the non-profit sector as much as anyone else.
The explosion of ‘big’ data, the pervasiveness of mobile technology, the increasing vacuum of political leadership, the ascendency of fear over hope – all affect our work.
Even the face of poverty is morphing. In a generation, populations once defined as ‘poor’ are now making progress, while those in fragile states and conflict-affected regions are slipping behind.
Some global trends affect those with the least resources more severely, including the negative aspects of urbanisation, the dramatic increase of climate-related emergencies, and rising inequality between the hyper-rich and the unreached poor.
Confronting this requires a transformation in our sector. But change is never abstract. It’s always personal … and that’s why it’s so difficult.
World Vision embarked on our journey of transformational change by launching a global strategy to take us to 2030, a timetable which aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals. That’s deliberate. Our promise is part of the world’s broader promise to ensure that, this time, no-one is left behind.
We are optimistic we can play our part in what should be our generation’s greatest endeavour; to light a much-needed beacon of hope in our divided and cynical world.
To quote William Arthur Ward: “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”
One of the strategic imperatives we identified is to broaden our impact by working better with others. We will create greater scale, and our impact will be more sustained, as we grow partnerships and excel in advocacy.
In my experience, the International Civil Society Centre (the Centre) has been the best organisation for bringing CSO leaders together to understand each other better, build trust and appreciate one another’s priorities and challenges.
Responsible civil society organisations enable the communities with whom we work to articulate their aspirations and concerns. Uniting this collective voice is the best way to speak truth to the powerful of the world and have an impact on national strategies – the vital next step in achieving global progress.
A current example is the Leave No One Behind framework, which a number of civil society organisations have agreed to support. This research will provide an evidence-based survey of people who were left behind by the Millennium Development Goals, asking them why, and mapping out a more successful strategy. By working on this together, our response will be more intelligent, our planning aligned and our individual strengths enhanced.
This is not something that comes naturally, but genuine partnering is the thing which is likely to have the greatest impact and inspire the necessary discipline to put plans into action. This initiative is only one example of the many key areas of collaboration the Centre has co-created with us and led. The Centre’s expertise in leading collaboration to multiply and accelerate impact makes it something I’m willing to spend my personal time on, in addition to investing some of World Vision’s resources and expertise.
Ultimately, the reward is not for our individual organisations. The prize is to maximise our combined impact for the well-being of the most vulnerable people, societies and environments in the world.
Kevin Jenkins is President and Chief Executive Officer of World Vision International. He is also the current Chair of the Board of the International Civil Society Centre.