1. Making sure the organisation’s purposes remain relevant and valid
Checking our Objects
Set aside half an hour to:
- Get out your governing document (constitution, memorandum & articles or similar) and remind yourselves exactly what your legal objects are.
- List everything your organisation currently does and check each one to make sure it falls within the scope of those objects – have you ‘drifted away’ from your purpose in any areas?
- Consider whether the objects are still relevant or whether you might need to update them.
See also ICSA guidance on Governing Documents for Charities
The objects of every charity must be for public benefit. The Charity Commission has published guidance on the requirements for Public Benefit on their website www.charity-commission.gov.uk. This can be found under ‘Charity Requirements and Guidance’ / ‘Charity Essentials’ / ‘Charitable Purposes and Public Benefit’.
A good place to start is ‘Charities and public benefit: Summary guidance for charity trustees’. There is more detailed guidance available from the ‘Charitable Purposes and Public Benefit’ page on the Commission’s website.
2. Making plans for the future and setting a budget that matches those plans
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
The idea is to think through these four areas in relation to your organisation and consider how your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses interact with the opportunities and threats presented by the outside world.
An explanation of the tool can be found at:
A list of questions to help you get started:
All organisations need to think about what they want to achieve, how they aim to achieve it and what resources they will need, if they want to achieve anything.
If your organisation is small, planning ahead needn’t be difficult or complicated, but it is useful to have a simple framework to use. Planning is particularly important if your organisation is going through a period of change, because you can’t simply rely on things being as they were before.
A very basic planning outline to help you get started:
The same basic outline is available in worksheet format:
This resource introduces the reasons why thinking about change is important and how it links to the work your organisation does:
For more detail about planning, see:
- The Complete Guide to Business and Strategic Planning for Voluntary Organisations (3rd edition, 2007), by Alan Lawrie, published by Directory of Social Change (DSC).
Available at time of writing from DSC and Amazon for under £20.
CASH (Community Accountancy Self-Help) offers a wide range of financial management factsheets, including one on Budgets listing typical budget headings and how amounts can be calculated. This can be downloaded from the ‘CASHFACTS’ section of the CASH website www.cash-online.org.uk/
3. Monitoring progress against the plans and finances against the budget
Monitoring and Evaluation
The Charities Evaluation Service (CES) has several publications on monitoring and evaluation, free to download at time of writing, at www.ces-vol.org.uk/. Good ones to start with are:
- First steps in Monitoring and Evaluation
- Monitoring and Evaluation on a Shoestring
4. Reviewing and amending the plans and budget as necessary
Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation are all part of the ‘Planning Cycle’:
5. Evaluating the results the organisation achieves and the changes it brings about
See the Charities Evaluation Service (CES) link in item 3 above.
Many of the quality standards used by the Voluntary and Community sector are listed and described on the ‘Prove and Improve’ website (provided by CES) at:
www.proveandimprove.org/. Click on the ‘Tools’ tab for the list.
Smaller organisations may find it useful to start by looking at:
- Quality First: a system written by Birmingham Voluntary Service Council designed specifically for organisations without staff, though it can be used by those with only one or two staff.
- PQASSO: written by Charities Evaluation Service and suitable for all size organisations, including small ones, though organisations without any staff at all are likely to find it quite challenging to implement.
In addition to the tools and standards listed on the ‘Prove and Improve’ website, preVISIBLE is available from Community Matters as a free self-assessment tool.