This article was originally published on Humentum by Tom Dente.

I had the opportunity in April to run in the London Marathon. Among the many marathons around the world, this is a special race as it involves significant participation from charities, NGOs, and nonprofits of all kinds, including many Humentum members and clients. It was inspiring to see the different organizations using the marathon to raise awareness of their missions, increase participation in their work, and support fundraising through this event. There were many logos and banners representing organizations large and small involved in development and humanitarian work. As perhaps a metaphor for recent overall conditions in our sector, this was the hottest race in the London Marathon’s history, with bright sunshine and heat, making for more difficult conditions.

As a community of resilient organizations, we succeed in the bright light of challenge and heat of scrutiny only if we have our core operations primed and ready. We succeed because in each of our organizations, we continually enhance the operational capabilities essential to supporting our missions. Humentum – and before it InsideNGO, LINGOs and Mango – exists to empower organizations and individuals to deliver these essential capabilities. As we look ahead, Humentum will focus on supporting four core operational capabilities: financial management, compliance, program management and people development. Achieving excellence in these core capabilities, on an integrated basis, ensures that organizations are not only fit for funding but also trusted to deliver long-term impact. For each of these core capabilities, we look forward to sharing insights, practices, and capacity that allows organizations to achieve competence and, with the support of our community, strive for excellence. This is the ultimate “finish line” we commit to reaching, and because of the nature of our work, one that is just beyond the next turn, as excellence is always being redefined.

People in a marathon

As our sector continues to change, Humentum aims to support these core operational capabilities at the point of highest impact, which is more often with local teams, offices and organizations. We will support these capabilities, not just with our team, but with an expanding network of local providers and partners. Our strategic ambition is to enable and facilitate a larger, more diverse global community of organizations who together will be working across Humentum’s network to achieve excellence in their core operational capabilities. Finally, we will also explore how we bring the “whole house of Humentum” including consulting, learning and peer communities to deliver integrated solutions and enhanced value to our members and clients.

How we achieve this as Humentum is just as important as the goal itself. We will need to create strong affiliation in a vibrant and evolving network, knowing that the larger our community becomes, the more valuable it is for those who are a part of it. We will also need to change our traditional delivery role to instead include and empower other providers and partners. We will need to facilitate the democratic sharing of knowledge and collaborate to unlock the hidden potential of our sector in practices, insights and learning and then make this expertise available to all. We also will need to ensure that we are supporting the longer-term, more equitable flow of decision-making, resources, and funding to local and national organizations in our work. Finally, in the four core operational competencies of financial management, compliance, program management and people development, we need to establish “centers for excellence” where partners and experts from our sector can inspire and define the journey of operational excellence for the future.

To make this happen, we will need to make changes as Humentum to better support this direction. Getting started on this journey will require that we take three actions:

  1. Adapt for Relevance – Review and modify our existing services and products to align with changes in traditional development models and in support of humanitarian needs.
  2. Accelerate Reach and Connections – Expand organizations engaged with Humentum through multiple channels of access and enhance connections among them.
  3. Localize Humentum – Pilot new offerings, create local partnerships and identify providers and sustainability models as the basis for the ongoing development of the Humentum network.

Adapting to be more relevant, accelerating reach, and localizing Humentum are exciting changes ahead so that we can add value to members and clients and better support our sector. If Humentum’s journey were a marathon, we would still be in the earlier, easier miles. Like any race or meaningful journey, we remind ourselves that we will have moments where it will not be as easy. But we also know that the generous support of our members, clients and partners will make the difference, just like it did for all those who guided and lent a hand along the way for the marathon runners in London.

We are excited to take this journey together.

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