Promoting creativity in an organization is harder than it looks on the surface. Hargadon and Sutton suggest four essentials to promote and maintain creative thinking in a nonprofit organization or volunteer program
Catch those great ideas. Creative folks are constantly looking for new or promising ideas. And it isn't always in the likely places. They tend to see old ideas as the primary raw material for new ones.
Keep good ideas alive. New ideas must be passed around and played with by people beside the knowledge broker. Brokers keep spreading information on who knows what in the organization, also.
Create new uses for old ideas. That trusty old program or idea is repackaged in a new way. A youth agency had a wonderful recreation and education program for children. Hundreds of children who were year round residents of the community participated in the program. However, the children of migrant and seasonal farm workers, who came and went in the summer and fall, were never exposed to this "old" program. The organization and a handful of volunteers made some adaptations, organizing a program specifically for children whom stayed in the community for about 12 weeks. Parents and children warmly received the "old" program.
Test those promising new idea. Volunteer program often institute new techniques, ideas, or activities without ever field testing them. Testing has a way of showing what is practical, useful, needed, and can teach valuable lessons. Even when an idea is a flop, it teaches about possibilities.
From: Harvard Business Review, May-June 2000, "Building An Innovation Factory," by Andrew Hagadon and Robert I. Sutton, pg. 157.
Microsoft has joined hands with Npower, http://www.npower.org, to provide grants around the US to build the technology infrastructure for nonprofit groups. A $10 million grant from the computer software giant will be used to start programs that identify the technology needs of local charities and the existing resources. The applying organizations develop a business plan to close the gap between needs and resources. For those plans accepted, Microsoft will cover half of each sites operating expenditures for three years. The money must be matched by local funds. For information on this program visit Npower.
Americans are volunteering in record numbers, but for fewer and fewer hours each year. The episodic or short term volunteer hits a homeless shelter once a year, helps out at a charity auction, and baby sits at their church one Sunday a year.
Eric Alterman in Worth magazine bemoans the loss of the long-term continuous service volunteer and what that loss means. He says the "big citizen" volunteer movement is still in its infancy. "Big government" may be over he states, but the long term citizen volunteer is not there to provide the help needed in communities, just yet.
You can see a copy of this article at http://www.worth.com.
The Points of Light Foundation has forms available to nominate volunteers and volunteer organizations for the Daily Points of Light Award. It is designed recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to community volunteering and citizen action, with a strong emphasis on service focused on the goals for children and young people set by the Presidents Summit for American's Future.
The award is given five days a week, excluding holidays. If
you would like nomination forms, contact Crystal
Hill at 202-729-8000.