Concern as UK Charities Lack Strategic Direction and Collaboration
29 May 2017 at 1:40 pm
Charities that are trying to be a jack-of-all trades are doing so to their own detriment, a new UK report has found.
A report from New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), which surveyed 300 charity chief executives and trustees in the United Kingdom, found that 74 per cent of charities expect to do a broader range of activities over the next three years.
The Charities Taking Charge: Transforming to Face a Changing World report, released on Friday, found charities were trying to do more with less and concluded the “lack of strategic focus was a major concern”.
“It is clear that charity leaders are set on continuing with a broad range of activities because they are needed. And prioritisation is not easy, because there is an inherent risk: in focusing your activities on where you can create the greatest impact, you may leave some people behind, or miss out activities that are important to achieving mission,” the report said.
“A key theme that emerged from our research was that many organisations find it a challenge to de-prioritise areas and activities where impact is not as great, or where others are better placed to make an impact.”
As part of NPC’s State of the Sector Program, the report explored the challenges charities face in a rapidly changing environment and aimed to “hold a mirror to the sector and find examples of those charities leading the way to inject new thinking about how charities can respond to these challenges”.
The report found there were some charities that were leading the way for collaboration and building partnerships with other charities, but only half of the respondents said they would actively build partnerships over the next three years.
One respondent said: “The third sector is way more competitive, way less collaborative than the private sector.”
The report also found that on the whole charities were more focused on external factors such as funding to secure their future.
Just under one third of respondents said more funding would be the most important thing to help the charity sector, while 23 per cent said raising their public profile and increasing fundraising were the most important.
According to the report only 7 per cent of respondents said increasing sector collaboration would be the most important path to increasing their social impact.
The report called for an overhaul of this kind of thinking and suggested that focusing on external factors stagnated the ability of charities to transform in new and changing environments and take charge of their futures.
“If the sector is to progress then it’s time to think differently and take charge of its future,” the report said.
The report concluded that while the sector remained focused on external factors in an increasingly unstable environment, charities who were focused on collaboration and internal changes within their control were leading the way.
“This shift in attitudes moves us to a more productive, networked approached with beneficiaries at the centre. It means focusing on some of the underutilised resources and relationships that charities have the ability to harness and influence,” the report said.
“Charities need to be much more focused on how they can best deliver impact and work in a more networked way to do so, sharing power in new ways with others, including beneficiaries and communities.”
Community Council for Australia CEO David Crosby told Pro Bono News collaboration and innovation should be a priority for Australian charities.
“The positive for Australian charities is that most have now put their future in their in-tray and are actively developing strategies to adapt to the changing environment in which they are operating,” Crosby said.
“The challenge is to continue doing good work: to let go of what is not working so well or what will not be part of the medium term future for the organisation, and to find the space and time to innovate and develop new partnerships and collaborations.”