In the process, we learned a lot about social sector organizations, which often have the freedom to explore unorthodox approaches but have limited resources for trial and error. They typically face learning challenges that demand creative solutions, including alternatives for professional development.
Most traditional companies offer employees some form of professional development programming. Employers often work with staff to set goals that help them advance within the organization. The career ladder—although occasionally restrictive—tends to incentivize learning.
But social sector organizations rely less on these ladders than businesses or government institutions; they gain flexibility at the cost of professional development infrastructure. Conferences can be a helpful alternative and often constitute social sector leaders’ primary exposure to new ideas, skills, and mentors.