Last week in Croke Park, the “Partnering for Success” conference took place with over 200 attendees and a waiting list of over 80 organisations.  The event provided Irish community and voluntary sector (C&V) organisations with an insight into the leadership and management challenges facing organisations in Ireland and how both the private sector and the C&V sector can learn from each other.

The conference marked the first time that the corporate and community & voluntary sectors have formally come together to explore how the private and the community & voluntary sectors can work together for mutual benefit. The event was supported by a number of organisations from the private sector and the community & voluntary sector including; The Wheel, Carmichael Centre, GlaxoSmithKline, Microsoft, Ulster Bank, Vodafone Ireland Foundation, and Recruitment Plus.

Mark Butcher (pictured below) told the conference delegates that focus on customer management strategy, adopting structural delegation, mission critical priorities and avoiding pitfalls like strategic neglect could mean the difference between just surviving and delivering stakeholders a quality service.

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Addressing the conference, Mr Butcher said, “We are facing economically turbulent times and just like the private sector, the not for profit sector needs to adapt to meet new challenges. To ensure sustainability and meet responsibilities of stakeholders, leaders in the community and voluntary sector need to focus on taking a strategic business approach to running their organizations. They need to adopt, where feasible, management tools and thinking that can sometimes be wrongly viewed as the preserve of the private sector.”

Deirdre Garvey of The Wheel said “Very often the community & voluntary sector doesn’t have the resources to run its organisations that are so readily available to the private sector and as a result the process of managing the organisation can suffer because sacrifices are made to keep the front-line service running. Today’s conference is very valuable as non-profit groups who attended received invaluable advice from experts in the fields of HR, technology, fundraising and management to help drive strategic thinking and streamline the processes of running a charity.”

Tina Roche, CEO of Business in the Community said, “Now, more than ever, charities need to be thinking strategically about how they work with business. Since 2000, Business in the Community Ireland has been working with the community & voluntary sector and supporting them to develop links with Irish business. It is fantastic to see so many of our member companies involved in this event, clearly demonstrating their commitment and support. Particularly in times of economic downturn, communities and business need to create strategic partnerships and avail of resources such as skills sharing and employee volunteering in order to turn our mutual challenges into opportunities for success.”

“Partnership between the private sector and the community and voluntary sector presents great opportunities for both,” commented Tom Murphy, head of corporate social responsibility at Microsoft Ireland.  “While there’s a lot of talk about the current economic climate, the reality is that there is a lot of opportunity for building relationships across both sectors that will benefit everyone.  The Partnering for Success conference presents a fantastic opportunity to start this discussion.”

The conference included discussions and seminars on how the community & voluntary sector is developing and the main challenges that face its leaders. It also focused on how the corporate and voluntary sectors can foster and develop ongoing relationships by sharing best practice and experiences. Specialist sessions covering areas such as governance, fundraising, management, HR and technology, were hosted by the corporate partners.

Partnering for Success