To begin with some thanks – firstly to the Charity Finance Group, for sending a really thorough and thoughtful paper, “Swimming Against the Tide”, which sets out both the scale of the challenge (“technically, [the Charitable sector] is still in recession”), and offers practical strategic advice (“mitigate current market conditions where possible, build the pipeline for when market conditions improves”). All of this, drawn from an understanding of how Charity leaders are under the pressure of a dramatically shifting context, without the time and space to fully consider their options: what they term the “capacity crunch”. Recommended reading, available to download here. Secondly, to the staff from Eastside Primetimers, PWC, Social Finance, Resonance, ClearlySo and Numbers4Good who gave their time to talk with me about their experience of working as ‘approved providers’ on the ICRF programme. As well as sharing their reflections and recommendations, the group were happy for this summary of the discussion to be shared – it was a really positive discussion, resulting in a helpful set of notes for us to draw on as we formulate our strategy in more detail. Finally, a note of appreciation for all of you who are still taking the time to fill in our initial online form, and/or answer some the ‘questions, questions‘ I posed a couple of posts ago: it is all really valuable grist for our capacity building mill – and again, you can see all of the collected responses in this doc.
And so on to today’s main order of business – having had a chance to discuss our thinking so far with our Board, we now want to share the slide below, which sets out our overall vision and a mission and target population for the capacity building programme. The two following boxes then set out what capacities we believe are most in need of being built, and the key methods we think (and have been told, through the consultation), will help our programmes to be most effective. It is particularly these last two – the “what” and the “how” – that we wish to test with you at this stage. Are these the correct priorities from your point of view, and as a reflection of all the consultation material we’ve gathered and shared? Is there something crucial that we’re currently missing?
This is shared in the certainty that it requires more work, and with an open invitation to please offer us your constructive criticism. Clearly there is much more detail to be determined on programme design, delivery mechanisms, monitoring and evaluation, learning and sharing and community building: we’re working this through as a team, with direction from our Board and continued support and advice from our ‘parents’. Between now and when we next meet the Board at the end of November, we need to build from this to reach a fully-fledged strategy and theory of change, and we know that this will be all the stronger for your input: just tweet @si_access, or drop us an email. Between now and my next missive, I’ll be publishing the first post in a new blog series about our systems development process – titled #DatabasEd, naturally – and preparing the next iteration of what what we’ve shared today in the light of your feedback. I look forward to hearing from you….