From honing your charity’s core vision to setting out a detailed long-term strategic plan, here are some online tools that can help you put pen to paper.
Whether your charity wants to revamp its fundraising efforts for the coming year, review its services, experiment with different ways to working or get to a certain goal by the end of 2020, no ambitious vision can come off without a strategy.
A strategic plan is a roadmap which sets out your charity’s aims and activities and how it intends to achieve those over a given period. Having this roadmap in place also provides a crucial benchmark against which stakeholders can measure performance.
The unpredictable nature of challenges such as skills shortages and Brexit have put the breaks on a lot of charities’ forward planning. However, during these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to take the time to build a written statement of intent that ensures you stick to your charity’s defining purpose and stay focused on your direction of travel.
Fortunately, strategic planning needn’t cost a thing. There are a number of charity-specific toolkits and sources of help for charities to understand and implement the core elements.
Let’s dive into a few of them.
Every charity’s strategy will be different, but NCVO’s ’Tools for Tomorrow: a practical guide to strategic planning for voluntary organisations’ is designed to help give charities give shape to their plans, whatever form they take, looking at the different aspects that should be considered.
The kit includes useful tools that you can use in your charity’s strategic planning, including a stakeholder analysis and risk analysis. It’s a paid-for product, but charities who are NCVO members get 30% off.
As members of the NCVO or SCVO (the Scottish equivalent) charities get access to a lot more resources and content such as online training and specialist help with trustee recruitment, in areas including governance, volunteers, fundraising, HR and strategy.
A free alternative is the NCVO’s strategic plan framework, which is free to download and provides a suggested template for charities to populate each section.
NPC is another trusted charity support organisation with some helpful best practice guidance. A good place to start is the ’Strategy for impact: NPC’s practical approach to strategy development for charities’ which is free to download.
This guide talks about how models from the business world can be replicated and transformed for the charity sector, what makes a good charity strategy, and then guides charities through the process to creating one in detail.
Its resource hub of publications also covers topics including strategic planning.
Any strategy that is fit for purpose in the digital age will also include a plan for making the most effective use of digital tools and platforms currently available to help charities operate more efficiently and engage with people in new ways.
On a recent Charity Digital Podcast, trustee Claire Tavernier explained that no strategy should be viewed as a separate entity divorced from digital, saying that digital strategy ’should permeate everything that you do within your organisation.’
When designing your strategy it’s essential to ensure that digital is embedded as part of those plans, looking at different aspects of digital use within your organisation such as the collection and analysis of data and how you will conduct online marketing, how you are dealing with data protection and how efficient your back office software is.
NCVO’s Digital Maturity Matrix is a practical first step for charities in designing a strategy to include digital. The questions are designed to assess where you currently stand and get you thinking about the various ways in which digital can be used within your organisation, and is free to use.
Following the launch of the new version of the Digital Maturity Matrix last year, we heard from charities including MS Society and Cancer Research UK at an exclusive lunch event about how they have been using it and what they’ve learnt.
Getting more into the specifics of digital marketing, this toolkit from the Media Trust was designed in association with charity digital marketing expert Jo Kerr.
Jo’s expertise includes as Head of Digital at Girlguiding and Assistant Director of Digital at Breast Cancer Care and is the first woman in the charity sector to top a list of UK digital champions under 30. You can hear more from her at last year’s Charity Digital Tech Conference, where she discussed some of the lessons that charities can take from the agile and adaptable startup sector.
Digital marketing is a vital tool for charities to communicate to their audience and reach people where they are. But there’s a lot to think about and no end of advice out there on creating and launching a digital marketing strategy.
The Digital Marketing Strategy Toolkit helps charities design their strategy step by step with templates for strategy points such as audience personas and journey mapping, explaining each aspect with detailed instructions.