Your quarterly update from the Business Development team

It’s hard to believe we are at the end of January already – 2019 has certainly got off to a busy start for our development team!  In the last few months we’ve:

  • Been out and about speaking at various events including the Charities Finance Group ‘Alternative Finance Conference’ and the FSI’s Fundraising Conference on diversifying income and building sustainability;
  • Delivered some fantastic projects with consultancy clients, from facilitating strategy away days, to developing project evaluation frameworks and devising income diversification strategies;
  • Been approved as an impact training provider for Big Local Trust;
  • Enrolled 10 new learners on our Fundraising Qualifications;
  • Welcomed a new member of the team, Lloyd Bidder.

In this blog we’ll be sharing some of the things we have learned and insights we’ve gleaned that might be useful for your organisation.  We hope you find it useful!

Evidencing the value of your services

We were really pleased to be selected by the Green House Bristol to partner with them to deliver a Social Return on Investment study, providing vital evidence of the value and impact of their therapy services for sexually abused children and young people.

Funded by the Centre for Expertise for Child Sexual Abuse, the evaluation findings demonstrated the outstanding quality of the organisation’s services and the high level of outcomes experienced; not just by children accessing the service but also their parents, carers and other professionals involved with the families. The study found that for every £1 invested in the organisation, at least £4.17 was generated in social value.

Some of the key learnings we think any charity can take from this process include:

  1. Involve stakeholders – but be pragmatic about how this is achieved. A core principle of Social Value UK’s methodology is that stakeholders are involved and consulted, both in understanding change and valuing it.  However, the primary beneficiary group for this study was children and young people, who had experienced considerable trauma.  It was agreed with the therapeutic team and Director that further consultation with past clients would be detrimental to their therapeutic outcomes and could risk re-traumatising them.  Therefore we built a picture of change from anonymised client records, workshops and interviews with therapists and through reference to external and academic research.
  2. The social value ratio only tells part of the story. Yes, it’s fantastic to know that for every pound invested in a service or activity, £x is returned on social value.  That’s an important figure for commissioners and funders who may need a case for investing in a service.  However what struck us was the validation of the quality of the service and outcomes demonstrated by children, families and other professionals alike.
  3. Evaluation is just as much about process as it is about outcomes. From the evaluation emerged several recommendations for future delivery (both observed by ourselves and identified by the team).   Often evaluation reports are commissioned because the organisation wants a great sales tool – which is a valid purpose! – but it’s important that all those involved go in with an open mind about what the findings will demonstrate and where there are opportunities to learn and improve.

Janine will be speaking at our upcoming Skills Conference sharing more learning and findings from recent projects on how charities can demonstrate their value and impact – book your place here.

As a member of Social Value UK, we have Social Return on Investment accredited practitioners who can help you to understand, assess and evidence the social impact of your services.  Get in touch with the team on development@thefsi.org for more information.

Reviewing and improving governance – all the Board’s responsibility

Janine, Ali and Amber have been out and about these past few months delivering governance training to trustees, through the FSI’s learning programme, in-house workshops with Boards and as a training partner to the Association of Chair’s Beacon programme for smaller charities.   One thing we hear time and time again is confusion over whose role it is to ensure effective governance – all the Board, the senior staff member, or the Chair?

There is little in charity and company law to distinguish the responsibilities of all trustees from that of specific officers such as the Chair or Treasurer.  Whilst in practice the Chair often takes a lead in Board development, ultimately it is the collective responsibility of the Board to deliver effective governance, which enables the charity to deliver its purpose for the public benefit.

We’ve got training coming up in governance topics near you and a series of Essential Trustee videos available here.  You can also access the Charity Governance Code here – this is a fantastic tool to use with your board to assess where your strengths are and any areas of development.

We can also deliver in-house training on Governance roles and responsibilities and work with you to review current governance practice and develop an action plan for improvement.  Get in touch with Janine or Lloyd on development@thefsi.org for more information.

Not another planning matrix!

When Janine spoke at the FSI’s Fundraising Conference (summary here) last October she observed that there were a LOT of 2 x 2 matrices when it comes to strategic planning.  Whether it’s the classic Boston Matrix, Ansoff’s Matrix, or Dual Bottom Line Analysis, the standard 2 x 2 grid is ubiquitous.  However, one we keep coming back to at the FSI is the Ansoff Matrix, which can be really helpful in identifying opportunities to diversify your income.  Rather than jumping straight into diversification and embarking on an enterprise venture that might raise money, it encourages organisations to think about their key products and markets.  The first question to ask is whether you are doing everything you can to maximise existing sources of funding. Then you can look at market development, which involves taking things you already do and packaging for new audiences, and product development, which involves developing new products and services for an existing market.  For example, you might provide a free service for your beneficiaries but there might be an additional service they would be willing to contribute to.

For more information on any of the topics above, email development@thefsi.org, or visit our website. For more updates like this one, you can sign up to our quarterly newsletter.


Janine Edwards, Head of Learning & Business Development, the FSI.