Seizing the opportunity for a strategic shift by charities tackling child poverty

Charlotte Lamb

NPC occupies a unique position between charities and their funders, and is committed to using this position to influence charities’ and funders’ response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

We have already embarked on a programme of work in this area: Developed high-level guidance for philanthropists and foundations to inform their response to the coronavirus outbreak; written an open letter to philanthropists in the FT calling for them to respond quickly and courageously, and for government to support this response; and published an open data platform to inform funders’ responses and allocation of resources geographically, based on live demand data from charities.

NPC is embarking on a new project with The Childhood Trust. Together, we are exploring how best to help organisations in the children’s sector strengthen their leadership and strategy to make successful transitions through this crisis to the situation they will face beyond. We are looking for coherent and practical responses to the following questions:

  • How can charities adapt and respond to the immediate crisis?
  • How can funders support that strategic work in the organisations they value?
  • Is this an opportunity to catalyse strategic shifts collectively, because everyone’s facing the same shocks and shifts to the system?
  • What skills and attributes do charity leaders need to develop?
  • How can charity leaders transition from management to leadership to address strategic shifts?

There are significant threats, but also huge opportunities at each stage of the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. For all charities it will take capacity, navigation of complexity and courage to adapt well.

It is likely they will face unprecedented change through uncharted territory—so the right answers aren’t available and there are likely to be mistakes along the way. Why should charities make this journey alone?

We are starting to explore a what a programme of work might look like that could achieve the following goals:

  1. Provide strategy and leadership support to individual charities and their leaders within the child poverty sector via guidance, advice and consulting.
  2. Find opportunities for collective delivery of support, learning and shaping through workshops, networks and online collaboration, underpinned by peer learning and peer support.
  3. Aspire to create a new way for charities to shape a collective strategy to achieve a shared vision—with a set of common outcomes and related monitoring & evaluation, something that has been a challenge historically, but we think the crisis presents an opportunity for.
  4. Support foundations and philanthropists to support multiple charities in the child poverty sector to survive the immediate crisis and transition to whatever’s needed in the longer term. Also to offer ways for funders to engage in this work as participants with the prospect of achieving systemic change, not distant patrons.

Over the next few weeks, NPC will be talking to charities, funders, and umbrella bodies in the children and young people’s sector to gather their thoughts on the support needed and what a programme of work that achieved these goals might look like.

If you would like to share your thoughts – do get in touch!

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