Which organisations are most in need of strategy support?

Theo Clay

As part of our ongoing research with The Childhood Trust, looking at how best to support charities in the children’s sector to strengthen their leadership and strategy, we’ve been exploring a range of  programme ideas and focus areas for what support could look like. In our next post we’ll be posting our ideas for programme design, but for now wanted to give an overview of some possible focus areas that have emerged from our interviews.

From our conversations with sector leaders,  it emerged that having a clear focus area will be critical in ensuring 1) that the programme is tailored enough to be of benefit and 2) that the programme cohort share enough in common to learn from each other and build meaningful relationships.

We spent a bit of time collating the organisational, thematic and geographic areas that have emerged so far. We’d welcome other suggestions so do get in touch.


Organisational types

Small charities—interviewees told us that smaller charities rarely have the resource or head-space to engage in the strategic thinking that many larger charities take for granted. They are also likely to be more financially unstable due to the economic crisis.

Charities who rely on trading incomeresearch by NPC showed that an organisation’s income model was predictive of how badly it was likely to be financially affected by the coronavirus. Those organisations who relied on government contracts were less affected, whilst organisations who rely on charity shops or other forms of trading were much worse affected by the crisis as these activities were all shut down.

Charities with new leaders—interviewees told us that a toxic cult of a CEO has often led to failed initiatives in the past. Conversely, new CEOs coming through often led to a wider shift in the sector. By focusing on engaging new leaders when they are fresh to a role, the programme could have a multiplying effect over the direction of the organisation over time.

Organisations invested in substantive collaboration—interviewees told us that another reason why shared strategy initiatives fail is that there was not a deep commitment to the collaboration from the start. It was seen as a ‘bolt-on’ to existing work. By ensuring the selection criteria prioritises organisations who have already demonstrated this commitment, the programme could ensure that any shared strategic initiatives it funds are deeper and longer lasting.


Thematic areas

Early years—one interviewee told us that there were fewer resources, and networks available for organisations focused around the early years than other subsectors.

School meals—charities also told us that school meal organisations tended to be smaller and have less opportunity to engage in networks and leadership programmes.

Intersection between Health and Education – one interviewee spoke of there being a gap in how health professionals and the education sector collaborate and the opportunity for this to be a focus point.


Geographic locations

When looking at NPC’s data set on COVID-19 related needs by local authority, several boroughs in London stand out immediately where charities may benefit from additional to recover from Covid-19.

Brent—has one of the highest death rates from the coronavirus in the country, has some of the most deprived areas of London in its boundaries and also has a very low concentration of charities per capita.

Harringay—also has been hard hit by the current crisis, and has the second lowest income areas in London, with a similarly low concentration of charities.

Enfield—has some of the fewest charities per capita of any borough in London, whilst being among the five hardest hit boroughs by coronavirus and among the five most deprived.

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