The year like no other is over. But there is more to come. So, what can your charity or non-profit organisation do to survive – and even thrive – over the weeks and months ahead?
As a fundraising consultancy business we are resolving to focus on three areas in 2021. I’m sharing our new year resolutions with you, partly because there’s something powerful about sharing your goals publicly. But because I have the feeling that some of these may be useful for voluntary organisations seeking to navigate their way through these crazy times.
1. Sharpen the saw
Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people is one of the most powerful books I have ever read.
For Covey, sharpening the saw is about taking time out to take care of our physical, spiritual, mental and social natures. It’s what GPs, life coaches and health bloggers now call ‘self care.’ If we are to achieve success, we must first invest in ourselves. Investing in your own self care – and in that of your staff and volunteers – isn’t only the right thing to do; it will also help you to work more effectively and efficiently.
2. Collaborate more
Collaboration is at the heart of our business plan and we have resolved to do even more of this in 2021 – with charities, competitors, freelancers and funders. We are committed to investing more time than ever in networking with and learning from others.
We are also seeing a growing trend towards collaboration amongst many of the charities we work with. One of the positives to come out of the pandemic, is the way the voluntary sector has come together. We have seen heartwarming examples of funders working together to tackle issues; London Funders is a brilliant example of this.
On the ground, local charitable organisations up and down the country have put their differences aside and worked together to tackle need, united by a common purpose. I believe this spirit of collaboration will continue in 2021 and beyond.
Could your charity partner up with other local groups to deliver public services? Joining forces with other social purpose organisations can save time and money and may enable you to do more, and to do it better. Gov.uk provides a search tool for public sector contracts with the government and its agencies and, if you are based in England, Locality may also be a useful resource.
3. Evaluate impact
In the run up to Christmas we interviewed some of our clients to get a clearer understanding of the impact our support has had on them. We have talked to clients for many years about impact – and, rather embarrassingly, this is the first time in our 10 year history that we have really sat down together and looked at the impact we have achieved for the charities we have worked with. Their input – both positive and negative (thank you to everyone who was involved in this) has helped us shape and refine our services, approach and overall direction for 2021.
With limited budgets, overstretched staff and competing priorities, many smaller charities spend very little time reflecting on the impact they achieve. With hundreds of tools, resources and approaches out there, it is easy to feel daunted. Having worked for many years in service delivery roles in the youth sector and for local authorities, I know that impact measurement isn’t just a tool for getting more funding. It really does help you deliver more effective, targeted support to those most in need.
If you’re not sure where to start, we really like Knowhow Nonprofit’s resources for smaller charities and not for profit organisations. New Philanthropy Capital’s theory of change resources and little blue book, are also great tools. The Lottery Community Fund has produced some great downloads for measuring the difference your work makes.