ACT 2021 Featured Capstone:
Sustaining Compassion in the Social Impact Sectors
Signe Jung Sørensen
Coach and Consultant — Denmark
Who did your Capstone Project serve ?
As an international development professional working in policy and government advisory work, I found change hard, mentally challenging and, at times, exhausting. My Capstone Project set out to serve those in the social impact sector who, like me, questioned whether there might be ways to engage with the sector, honoring and protecting the compassion that drove our ambitions, while thriving in the process. What if exploring and integrating compassion could even amplify our impact?
What was the suffering that your project addressed?
I have personally experienced and witnessed how challenging it can be to sustain and cultivate the compassion that got us into our fields in the first place. My project acknowledged and aimed to address the disconnection from purpose and impact, as well as the overwhelm, doubt and frustration that may arise in this line of work.
How did this project address that suffering?
My project sought to address this suffering by exploring how we may perceive and anchor compassion in our professional lives and work environments. This was done through two channels: 1) Creating a community for people to draw inspiration from each other through a public forum, community calls and workshops on compassion, and 2) Offering presentations and tangible tools for cultivating compassion in the workplace and for ourselves.
Who was your audience and how many people participated?
My key audience included professionals in the social impact industry, such as public servants, international development consultants, not-for-profit founders and managers, and academics among others. Combining all streams of the project, a total of 77 individuals participated.
How was the project delivered (the format)?
The project was delivered through a variety of formats including a blog, workshops and presentations given to the Policy Team at the ONE Campaign and in the South Africa team at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office as a part of their Voices for Change Series. A three-part Compassion Exploration Journey was also created and trialed for individual participants from different organizations.
What was the reported impact on or feedback from participants? On yourself?
Participants reported a growing curiosity around ways to bring compassion to themselves and to spark conversations about the topic in their organizations. For example, one participant requested that I coach her through a compassion leadership journey – the details of which are in development. Journeying side-by-side with others and co-creating with them has made me feel free, hopeful and “at home."
How has the ACT Program helped you become an Ambassador of Compassion?
The ACT Program gave me the courage and self-compassion to continue my own exploration as well as nudged me out of my comfort zone to share my learnings. We truly do learn through action, which often requires courage and vulnerability. ACT has given me the tools to navigate this vulnerability and return to a place of safety and self-kindness along the way.
What advice would you give to someone who's considering participating in the ACT Program?
The perspectives and tools offered by teachers and colleagues alike set the stage for an empowering learning environment. If it feels somewhat daunting and perhaps a little vulnerable to embark on the ACT Program, you are exactly where you need to be. Leap! - and you will be caught by the most supportive community, modeling compassion in ways that will inspire and nurture you.