Workshop “Future Scenario”

During our 1st transnational meeting all participants were invited to participate in the “Scenario workshop”. The main propose was to generate discussion about “what their ideal work in the third sector would be like in 2025 under 4 scenarios”.
The 1st scenario was about the Techno Scenario (most volunteering takes place on line); 2nd scenario Growing inequality Scenario (the third sector will need to provide more services than before to prevent marginalization); 3rd scenario Loose networks scenario (people join on a shorter and looser basis, traditional forms of association are transformed) and 4th scenario Status quo scenario (work in the sector remains the same as it is now). Each group was responsible for one of the scenarios, share and identify the different skills needed in each one.

 1st Scenario - TECHNO SCENARIO

Our organisation is at the forefront of the Third Sector. As far as possible we use technology to solve problems and complete our day to day tasks. When I have time, I love to design solutions to problems we face, or find more efficient ways of doing a task.

Everyone has their own tablet that links wirelessly to the other devices in the office. Everything is done online, no shelves, no filing cabinets, nothing. It’s a paperless office, everything is on The Cloud. Our office is relatively small for the number of people who use it – just a few desks for hot desking and a couple of meeting rooms, one of which doubles as an IT suite when we have visitors needing to work or link up with colleagues elsewhere via Skype, etc.

We have a couple of robots, we call them “Stan” and “Oli” Stan acts as the office gofer. He is  programmed to buy tickets, check timetables, keep us up-to-date with alerts and notifications  and dispense drinks and snacks to our desks. Oli can be found crawling on the floor to clean it.  He’s good at clearing up the spills and crumbs from our snacks. It’s just a shame that he needs  occasionally needs a lift up to clean our desks, otherwise everything would be spotless all the  time.

We recruit and support our volunteers online. They don’t even need to come into the office, it’s  all done remotely. They enjoy working from home, and can easily volunteer while looking after their families, for example. But some say it was better when volunteers got together to  undertake tasks together. There must be an app for that?

As they achieve their tasks and progress through the organisations volunteers are rewarded with  badges that they can share with others and use as validation of their skills and experience in the  workplace. I don’t mind telling you there is a certain amount of rivalry between volunteers who  collect badges and boast about them on social media.

2nd - Scenario - Growing inequalities

We have taken in a large number of immigrants in recent years. Of course, there has been a knock on effect. It’s harder to get work and more people are unemployed and often not receiving benefits so they have to fend for themselves. That means more people are returning to the land to support themselves on allotments or where there’s a small piece of land that can be used.

People are more dependent on peer support. The churches do a lot: foodbanks, free meals, debt counselling and they even let people sleep in their buildings sometimes, especially when it is cold. Meanwhile, the rich – well they just don’t know how the other half lives. No amount of explanation changes things. They just don’t want to listen.

Society is becoming more unstable, a new social class is emerging, precariat some people call it.  Some of us are in constant danger as there are more and more people with no permanent work  and not receiving benefits either. They have no security, nothing is permanent and, of course  they are anxious, always on the lookout for threats to the little security they do have. We need  increased government support to create cooperation between organisations and a common  plan of social organisation.

As workers in the third sector, our target is the weakest. Even we are dependant on society to  be able to help others and even for our survival. We want to see a society where there is no  them and us. We want to work for the greater good. Our role is to encourage, coach and help  people to find their passion. We want them to be able to do things they like, without being  afraid. We need stability to focus on the long-term and support many social groups. We need  volunteers at grass roots level to do the work. We need to be able to direct and encourage them.  Maybe time banks would be the way forward.

3rd - Scenario - Loose communities

Well, we’re working on our project here. It’s quite comprehensive and includes several different  elements. We’ve responded to local needs really and we are proud of the contribution we make  to the local community.

The trouble is our volunteers don’t commit for long. They come and help enthusiastically and  then they go off travelling or to look after the grandchildren. And we have to start all over again,  training new volunteers, who help us for a bit and then go off … of course, some do come back  and we are always pleased to welcome returners.

There’s another group working in the next town. I’m not sure what they do, but some of the  things they do are similar, I think – helping the poorest in society. Apparently they have a dropin where people can go for help. Be nice to do something like that here.

We need more people with expertise; a volunteer manager or coordinator who can recruit and  motivate volunteers; a person to manage our database, it’s never up to date: someone with  knowledge of the third sector who can research different resources that would help us, and help  us to work with people doing similar work; and we really need a good person to manage our  resources, not just a finance manager but someone who can attract additional funding.

4th - Scenario - Status Quo

Well … we’re still here. Still dreaming about a brighter future for the Third Sector … for us. Of  course, a lot of our work is done online now, but many of my colleagues don’t like it. It was  easier before – write it on a piece of paper, file it and forget it … until you move offices, and then  you throw it all away.

We’re still here … been here for years. Volunteers come and go. New staff come on temporary  contracts, stay a few months and then leave for a better job elsewhere. You can’t blame them.  Sometimes we have to let our clients down. There’s just no one to help them until new  volunteers join us or we get another member of temporary staff. We do our best, but it’s not  always enough. People seem to expect more these days.

It’s hard for non-governmental organisations (NGOs). They are always looking for the next  funding stream. If they didn’t have to pay tax it would enable NGOs to give value for money and  their hard working staff would feel more valued by the state.

There’s never enough to employ enough properly trained staff. NGOs want to be able to employ  qualified staff, but how can you validate experience and informal learning? It means a pool of  suitable candidates are often overlooked.

NGOs want to be seen as providing high quality and efficient services, but it isn’t always possible.  They are always having to adjust to an ever changing regulatory environment and even more  bureaucracy.

It all comes down to needing more resources in a shrinking economy. If only there were more  hours in the day! It would be nice to have someone to do more of the administrative work –  there’s so much bureaucracy these days! It’s very stressful. No time to stop and think. No time  for creativity. If only there were more hours in the day.

Skills identified to each Scenario

The skills that were identified were:

  • Technological skills understands technical skills: such as database management; web;  social media; networking; clear vision;
  • Interpersonal skills interact successfully with a wide range of people: Self-reflection on  personal knowledge and abilities; self-defense; courage; good self-esteem; communication and interaction; Intercultural skills; multi-cultural sensitivity;
  • Adaptability skills flexibility to adapt to the needs of the moment: flexible, adaptable to  new situations;
  • Organizational and planning skills able to plan projects, events and programs, establish  objectives and needs and evaluate the options: Fundraising; Knowledge of crowd funding; General and volunteer Project management;
  • Critical and thinking skills review different point of view or ideas and investigates all  possibilities: Negotiation and Diplomacy;
  • Research skills knows how to find and collect relevant background information:  Knowledge of the third sector

In the table below (nr 1) we can find the skills needed and identify by each group.

1st Scenario - Techno
2nd Scenario - Growing
3nd Scenario - Loose
4th Scenario –
Status Quo
  •  Technical skills;
  • Self-reflection on personal
    knowledge and abilities;
  • Flexible, adaptable
    to new situations;
  • Willingness to expand out
    of a comfort zone;
  • Intercultural skills;
  • Negotiation;
  • Diplomacy;
  • Multi-cultural  sensitivity;
  • Self-defense;
  • Courage;
  • Charm;
  • Practical skills;
  • IT skills;
  • Fundraising;
  • Networking;
  • Organising;
  • Good self esteem;
  •  Database management;
  • Networking;
  • Knowledge of the third 
  • IT skills: web, social  media;
  • Clear vision;
  • Interpersonal skills;
  • Knowledge of crowd
  •  General management;
  • Project management;
  • Volunteer management;
  • Creativity;
  • Communication and