Measuring resilience in charities is a challenge. In reality, whether a charity is resilient can be known only in the future, and only when a charity faces difficult or changing times.
But what does a resilient charity look like? Through CAF’s work with charities they have noticed six characteristics that show an organisation has the potential to be resilient.
Understand what your purpose is, and just as importantly what it isn’t.
When funding is such a challenge and when public bodies are using charities to deliver their mission, you can easily find you are allowing external bodies to dictate your organisation’s direction. While funding is important, it’s vital that you have a clear mission and evaluate all opportunities against this.
CAF worked on this with one charity in particular, whose work felt very disjointed. They could tell them what they did, but not what they were trying to achieve. This is a situation you need to avoid.
In CAF’s experience, a theory of change workshop can be extremely valuable in galvanising an organisation’s focus on their resilience. It allows shared time for everyone to focus on the bigger picture.
Awareness of the political, economic, local and national context you work in, regularly horizon scanning for challenges, threats and opportunities.
In many parts of the UK, the local voluntary sector landscape has changed significantly in the last decade. It’s important to spend time researching who else is out there. If your information is out of date it will impact your delivery.
An example of this is a charity that CAF worked with recently that supports young parents. The staff had understandably been too busy with vital delivery to spend time looking at who else is working in this space. However when they did, they quickly realised that many of the charities and projects they knew of had significantly shrunk, closed or widened their beneficiary group beyond young parent families.
This surprised the charity. They realised they are now the largest UK charity focused solely on this client group. They became aware of risks and opportunities they had not previously seen.
To read the full Third Sector article click here.