Developing 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 our Power Labs 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
Power labs overview
Leading the way in addressing organisational power dynamics
Together we are explored:
- 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 examined how power analysis is foundational to organisational integrity and how to adapt integrity practices accordingly. Rather than starting from scratch, we built on well-evidenced power analysis frameworks used in campaigning and programme work.
The main aim of our Power Labs was to develop practical tools and frameworks and capture learning for sharing more widely across the sector. We also explored how to create an ongoing community of practice or open space for sharing and connecting.
The Power Lab journey
Participating teams will worked together in four lab sessions between October 2022 and March 2023. A few weeks’ break between each session will enabled them to reflect, and to refine practices in their working environment. They also had a virtual check-in meeting with their PI partner.
The teams will developed bespoke action plans for their organisation, as well as contributing to the co-creation of PI’s open-source tools.
Our ability to run these Power Labs is possible thanks to the support of Oak Foundation.
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.