John Heppenstall interrupted my morning’s dog walk around the canal, and I’m glad he did.
John was one of our most highly rated presenters last year at Sponsorship Toronto. I was eager to book him for a return engagement, but we were having a hard time connecting. John took the initiative to try me on a Saturday morning. Smart man.
The good news: he’ll be back. We’ll nail down his bio and I’ll get approval on a pic that we can load on the website, but for now I’ll open up this blog with a few words on what you can expect from John.
He admitted to me recently that his recent work on a product called Social Ambassador had left him frustrated with the cause and NFP sectors. What he found was a surprising lack of creative imagination, an inability (or perhaps unwillingness) to grasp long-term benefits. He contrasted that experience with what he found when he took the same product to corporate side, where its potential was almost immediately recognized.
Despite the great strides made by the cause and NFP sectors over the past decade, many still have their feet stuck in the mud. Unlike the corporate sector, they are not nimble, they are not creative and they are leaving opportunities on the table.
The point John makes was echoed recently by Brian Emmett, the Chief Economist for the Charitable and Nonprofit Sector with Imagine Canada. We wrote about it in the August issue of The Sponsorship Report. Brian described a risk-averse culture within the cause sector. Now lest this sound like a pile-on, Brian also acknowledged that there are institutional reasons for this, most notably an insistence by funders (sponsors included) that every penny go straight to the organization’s charitable purpose. That’s certainly not an environment conducive to risk-taking.
John believes, and I think Brian would agree, that the cause and NFP sectors need to become far more business-like in their operations. The expression “business-like” is often interpreted as meaning the adoption of administrative and financial controls. That’s part of it, but not all of it. Successful businesses have long-term vision and are comfortable taking calculated risks. Heck, they’re more than comfortable. They’re energized by it, because they know that on the other side of a well-managed, calculated risk is a substantial reward.
John is a terrific presenter. I know you’ll emerge from his session feeling challenged and inspired in equal measure.