A new holistic approach
As nonprofits become more aware of the potential harm from their work, most struggle to navigate the increasingly complex web of integrity issues and expanding list of requirements. As well as seriously hampering board oversight, the current piecemeal management of integrity practices can lead to harmful gaps and lapses.
With a power-sensitive, whole-system, and synergy-led approach, we believe nonprofits can transform integrity practice across the sector. We are running a Power Lab to start co-creation and learning on how best to apply holistic power analysis in the nonprofit setting.
Holistic integrity areas
- equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
- human rights
- blind spots
Lead the way in addressing organisational power dynamics
Five UK-based nonprofits have joined our six-month programme to explore:
- how power dynamics shape organisational and individual behaviours
- how seemingly separate integrity areas are interconnected
- practical steps for nurturing positive transformational power and addressing negative power
- pathways to embody organisational integrity.
We will explore how power analysis is foundational to organisational integrity and how to adapt integrity practices accordingly. Rather than starting from scratch, we will build on well-evidenced power analysis frameworks used in campaigning and programme work. Participating organisations will develop bespoke action plans, and contribute to the co-creation of open source tools to be shared across the sector.
The Power Lab journey
Participants from the five nonprofits will work together in four 4-hour workshops. Facilitation will be sensitive to different learning styles, and will apply a balance of experiential, applied and reflective learning methods.
There will be a few weeks between each session for reflecting, and to refine practices in their working environment. There will also be a virtual check-in meeting with their PI partner.
Power Lab’s main aim is to develop practical tools, frameworks and learnings to be shared in openly across the sector. But we will also explore how to create an ongoing community of practice or open space for sharing and connecting.
Criteria for participation
- Interest: Serious about integrity, addressing power, and shared learning.
- Attendees: 3–4, ideally a mix of board and executive roles and a practitioner.
- Time commitment: 4 x 4hr sessions with 2h reflective practice between each.
Our ability to run Power Lab is possible thanks to the support of Oak Foundation.
Participating organisations just need to contribute their time, skills and experience, plus any travel or accommodation costs. A voluntary donation of up to £500 will help support our wider work, which is not yet funded. However, this is not a requirement of joining Power Lab.
Interested to take part?
We have stopped taking applications for the power lab. We will however be holding some mini labs later in the year. To register your interest, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As well as matters relating to misconduct, integrity aspects can include a wide range of other concerns about culture, leadership, standards in supply chains or partnerships, investments in markets that undermine the mission, etc.
A member of our team will be yosur dedicated partner for the Power Lab journey. This includes meeting before to the lab sessions, and regular virtual check-ins between sessions and monthly for up to 8 months afterwards.
For example, power analysis is a key area of research at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. ‘Power, Empowerment and Social Change’, published in 2019, provides an overview of well-established frameworks in chapter 3.
Adapting well-established work by nonprofits on power and inequality, we are exploring how societal power structures underpin negative organisational culture and behaviours such as saviourism, sexism, racism, bullying, and corruption.
Power analysis identifies the for multiple aspects of integrity, essentially providing the lens for the whole-system approach to organisational integrity.
A power-sensitive approach also provides valuable insights into how best to address negative power manifestations and – importantly – how to nurture positive power.
We are exploring how organisations can embody integrity. We mean this in both senses of the word: honest, responsible, accountable, and principled; and whole and unbroken.
Organisational integrity requires a holistic and strategic mindset, combined with integrity practice at individual, organisational and sector levels.
Using a whole-system approach, we will support organisations to integrate integrity practice that strengthens oversight, strategy, risk management and operations. This will help them be more proactive, more efficient, and much less likely to cause harm.
Integrating power-sensitive integrity practice requires continuous learning and diverse perspectives to shape a shared understanding. So we will help build an enabling environment with the nonprofit sector to work collectively on power and integrity.
We will also work to increase coherence between donor requirements around integrity and contribute to wider sector-level work on legitimacy, decolonisation and power.
By learning collectively and reducing duplication, the sector can establish a strong foundation from which organisations can strengthen their integrity practice and, ultimately, their impact.