New year, new plans?

New year, new plans?

As 2017 rolls to an end, it could be a really good time to consider what your goals are for 2018. We appreciate it is a tough market for charities so it could be a good time to consider how to strengthen your organisation as well as how best to support your beneficiaries. In the FSI Consultancy team, we work with a range of organisations to do just this through strategy and planning, income generation and impact measurement and reporting.

In order to support our clients and ensure our consultants can fully understand organisations they are working with, the FSI designed a diagnostic tool to understand the development of charities – our Life Stage Assessment (LSA). This tool has now been used with hundreds of organisations to understand their organisation and to help us provide expert recommendations for their progression in seven areas:

– Governance

– Staff Leadership

– Finance and Income

– Activities and Impact

– Staffing and volunteers

– Marketing

– Administration Systems This tool is also the basis of our more in-depth Organisational Strength Reviews.

In 2015, we undertook a Life Stage Assessment of Sheffield Young Carers Project (SYCP), one of our small charity members, and below Katie Borland, the Director of Funding and External Relations at SYCP discusses their motivations for commissioning an LSA and the results of this.

Why did you decide to undertake a Life Stage Assessment?

“Following quite a significant period of organisational change (new managing director, service delivery model etc.) we decided to undertake the assessment to:

· help us identify key areas for development

· provide us with strategic direction

· provide evidence for funding bids relating to our organisational effectiveness, capacity and fundraising activity.”

What were the results of this?

The FSI’s report demonstrated that overall, we were in good health. It confirmed that our services were well planned and met a demonstrated need, and that we had the infrastructure and income potential to support future growth. The report also identified a number of key areas for development around our governance, staff leadership, financing and income and marketing, all of which are now being acted on.“

How has this proved helpful for your charity?

“The results of our Life Stage Assessment informed the brief for, and helped us to secure funding for, an in-depth review of our service as a whole, which we commissioned in 2016. It also helped us to

secure £8,900 in ‘Building Capabilities’ funding from the Big Lottery Fund, which we applied for alongside our three-year Reaching Communities grant for our Family Project. The plans we made using this funding picked up on several of the recommendations within our Life Stage Assessment, such as exploring and testing new opportunities to diversify our income.

So far we have used the funding to pay for a strategic retreat for our board, a training day for our SMT, and some of my time to develop a new fundraising database and key sections of our website, in order to diversify our income streams.

We have also since secured funding for some of our strategic development and awareness-raising work from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Garfield Weston Foundation. This funding is helping us to continue supporting others, e.g. schools and GP surgeries, to identify and support young carers within their own settings – a vital part of our remit as a service for young carers.


To date we have referenced our Life Stage Assessment in several successful funding applications, to evidence our commitment to the sustainability/ongoing development of our organisation”. For more information about our Life Stage Assessment please contact Alex on alex@thefsi.org or 020 7324 4777.