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Setting the right strategic direction

The presentation was part of the Funding Conference in London on Monday 23 February 2015.

The presentation was by Srabani SEN OBE and looks at what can happen if you set the right strategic direction.

Find out more about the Funding Conference from NCVO:

Find out more about NCVO's practical support on strategy:

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Setting the right strategic direction

  1. 1. AM1: Setting the right strategic direction Srabani Sen OBE
  2. 2. What we will cover... • Purpose of session • What is a strategy and why do we need one? • What does good strategy look like? • What do funders look for from your strategy? • Your own strategy healthcheck • Role of trustees
  3. 3. Purpose of workshop Help you: • Explore connection between fundraising and strategy • Assess how robust your existing strategy is • Suggest some questions for self reflection
  4. 4. Self reflection questions • Do you have a written down, measurable strategy? • Are staff and trustees familiar with it? • Do you have a fundraising strategy that stems from your organisational strategy? • From the above, what’s real and what is window dressing?
  5. 5. Meaningful strategy 30-31 March 2015 NCVO Further details: Donna James
  6. 6. “If you are going to ask yourself life changing questions, be sure to do something with the answers” Bo Bennett Businessman and writer in the US (Web)
  7. 7. Self reflection questions • Do you learn and change based on performance data? • Do you change as you learn more about the needs of your beneficiaries? • Do you adapt to changes in the external environment?
  8. 8. Introductions Step 1: Name, organisation and introduce your strategic challenge to your table (biggest challenge facing you) Step 2: Identify 1 key theme on your table relating to your strategic challenges
  9. 9. What is strategy? Road Map Where are we going? How will we get there? What do we need on the journey? How will we know we’ve arrived?
  10. 10. Strategic review process = Question Time Ask... • Right questions • Big questions • Answer with evidence • Apply the evidence to formulate answer • Test the answer
  11. 11. Right questions...e.g. • What do our beneficiaries need and want? • What do we do better than anyone else? • *** So what? *** Wrong questions...e.g. • How do we keep this service going? • What do funders want? • What is acceptable to staff/ organisational politics?
  12. 12. Over-riding question... What’s in the best interests of your beneficiaries (and how do you know...)?
  13. 13. Self reflection questions • Are you sure you are asking yourselves the right questions? • Who defines those questions/ what’s driving how you formulate questions?
  14. 14. Why good strategy matters... To your organisation • Clarity: • purpose/ goals and how you deliver for beneficiaries • measures • how you target resources • staff roles “where do I fit in” • manage risk etc... To your fundraising • Core to your case for support • Proves professionalism to funders • Process provides key facts and evidence • Manage risk
  15. 15. What good strategy looks like 1. Where are we going and why (vision/ mission/ values) - Getting the direction right 2. What is it like around here – Environmental analysis 3. What routes might we follow – Options and choice 4. How do we plan for a successful trip - Planning 5. What needs to change to get there – Implementation 6. How will we know when we’ve got there – Evaluation/ measurement
  16. 16. Impact and outcomes What is the overall difference your organisation is trying to make (impact) What specific differences will achieve the overall difference (outcomes) What will you do to achieve these differences (outputs and activities) What do you need to deliver (inputs)
  17. 17. Srabani’s patent theory of change Impact: Feel better about myself ☺ Outcomes: Fitter, slimmer, lose weight, fit last year’s clothes Outputs: Fridge/cupboard contents, meal plans Activities: Eat healthier, take more exercise Inputs: Commitment, gym membership fee, shopping list
  18. 18. Self reflection questions • Do you truly understand the implications of working in an impact driven way? • Are you really clear about the impact and outcomes you are trying to achieve? • Would beneficiaries agree with what you have prioritised? If so, how do you know?
  19. 19. Impact and measurement Purpose of defining measurement system • to get better at what you do • to tell a story to funders • to make sure you don’t overburden yourself
  20. 20. Impact and Evaluation Indicators of Impact: • What’s the change for the beneficiary as a result of your work • It’s an art not a science • You choose!!! • Make it practical • What data can you collect • How will you use the data (If you won’t use it, don’t collect it) • Make it proportionate
  21. 21. Impact and evaluation • Other indicators add value to the story you tell but they’re not the full picture: • how many people you reach • volume of activity • satisfaction levels • Key = think about evaluation early in strategy development process (Iterative process when defining SMART objectives)
  22. 22. Impact and evaluation “ 50% of helpline callers claimed benefits they were not previously claiming” Versus “1,500 rang our benefits helpline last year”
  23. 23. What funders are looking for... Hidden • The silver bullet answer • Meet their objectives (stated/ unstated) • Credibility/ funder success (NB it can be about individuals and organisational politics...) Not so hidden • Improved lives for disadvantaged groups • The right organisation to deliver • Value for money
  24. 24. Strategy health check Strategy element Judging criteria Rating (1=low, 3=high) Evidence for rating Mission, vision and values Clearly expressed 3 Tested with beneficiaries Reflects charitable objects Staff understand how it drives their work Goals/ objectives Clearly expressed Reflects mission, vision, values Linked to impact (not activity) Embedded into systems and processes of organisation 3 Embedded into personal goals, training programme, appraisals Measurement Linked to impact Measures link to goals 1 Measure is about quantity but goal is about quality Data used to drive performance improvement
  25. 25. Meaningful Strategy The Role of Trustees (3 of 12) essential responsibilities • Set and maintain vision, mission and values • Develop strategy • Ensure accountability
  26. 26. Reality • Meet 4/ 6 times a year • Individuals may or may not know the sector (skills may lie elsewhere) • Trustees may not understand how to develop strategy • Strategy is developed in partnership with executive (executive does leg work) • Trustees may not agree amongst selves/ be interested in pushing a particular line regardless of evidence
  27. 27. Reality • Trustees and executive may have different views • Mixture of skills/ knowledge/ expectations Ultimately... Trustees make the key decisions
  28. 28. Self reflection questions • Do you do enough to support trustees to make strategic decisions? • Do you REALLY know your trustees – skills/ knowledge/ experiences/ “filters” (prejudices)?
  29. 29. Knowing your board What attributes does the board have that will enable them to develop strategy? Specific attribute Which trustees/ whole board? Gaps Actions Who can help? (internal/ external) Skills Critical analysis John, Andrea Lead discussion on evidence CEO to brief John and Andrea Knowledge Sector competitors Provide competitor analysis Service managers, public affairs staff Culture Trustees too polite/ don’t challenge each other Employ facilitator Sector colleagues with facilitator contacts
  30. 30. What we covered... • What is a strategy and why do we need it? • What does good strategy look like? • What do funders look for from your strategy? • Your own strategy healthcheck • Role of trustees
  31. 31. Meaningful strategy 30-31 March 2015 NCVO Further details: Donna James
  32. 32. Thank you Srabani Sen OBE Senior Consultant, NCVO