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If your organisation is talking about innovation right now, or has ‘innovative’ as one of its brand values, then you’re not alone. But what is innovation? Is it just a highfalutin concept? Is it confined to product development? Is it only possible on a big budget? And how does it translate into something that makes a positive difference to your stakeholders?

In truth, charities have never needed innovation more than now. The sector is under increasing pressure- whether it’s from donors demanding more information, MPs asking questions about what charities should be allowed to do or greater demand for services. In my view, nonprofits are unlikely to see the benefits of the recovering economy for some time yet. There’s a very real sense of ‘we can’t go on as we are.’ Charities are being forced to get creative about different ways of working and new income streams. Is innovation a choice you make, or is necessity the mother of invention?

I’ve seen some great examples of innovative work by charities recently, from Macmillan’s online dating based fundraising initiative My Mate Your Date to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s data project Markets for Good. It’s not just the big charities either. Small charities are also doing some very innovative work, such as Raindrops on Roses.

But what is the actual business case for innovation? How could it help your charity, as well as the sector as a whole? What does it mean for nonprofits in the future? These questions have inspired innovation consultant Lucy Gower and I to create the Charity Innovation Survey. We believe that the results will help charities build strong business cases for more innovative approaches to their boards, and gain insights into how other organisations are doing things differently, and for the better. Guess2Give, the innovative online fundraising platform, are partnering with us on the research.

This is your chance to have your say about innovation. We would love to hear your views. The Charity Innovation Survey should take you no more than 5-10 minutes and as a little thank you for your time we’ll email you the results and enter you into a prize draw for Amazon vouchers. The deadline for responses is midday on Monday 14th April.

We hope to see you at the launch of the results, which will be at a special event with Charity Leaders Exchange on 10 June in central London (details TBC- I’ll post the link as soon as I have it). The event will also explore how charities use innovation, how critical it is to the future of the sector and what organisations think it could help them achieve. We’ll also feature case studies and advice for charity leaders on innovative approaches.

Could innovation change the sector for the better? Or is it just a ‘nice to have?’ Tell us what you think. It would be great if you could also spread the word about our research. By doing so, you’ll be bringing charities together to talk about something which could potentially help us all achieve more, collaborate better and support a greater number of our beneficiaries.

Take the Charity Innovation Survey