Organisational Resilience – the quick and dirty way


I recently read an excellent blog from Beth Clarke at the Charities Aid Foundation. They have been running a programme focussing on the resilience of smaller charities, and have identified six key characteristics of resilient charities

As I read it through, I found myself becoming increasingly tired. I thought of all the things that I should be doing but am not, and all the things that I shouldn’t be doing, but am.
Medium stressed out
I feel like that a lot at the moment. I think I need more sleep and chocolate (and resilience) in my life! Anyway … I thought I would shamelessly pinch CAF’s list and try to provide some quick shortcuts so that we can all feel like we’ve achieved something (and my boss will stop nagging me to write a blog). These shortcuts probably aren’t the gold standard, but they’re certainly better than nothing.

So here goes. How to make your organisation more resilient, the quick and dirty (Q&D) way …


You need to understand what your purpose is and just as importantly what your purpose isn’t
The proper way: Get your staff, trustees and stakeholders together and hold a theory of change workshop
Q&D: Fill in the Outcome Triangle below. Show it to people and then change it accordingly.

Outcome triangle


You need to be aware of the political, economic, local and national context you work in, regularly horizon scanning for challenges, threats and opportunities
The proper way: Spend time researching who else is out there, what they are doing, and where. Keep abreast of changes in local and national policy. If your information is out of date it will impact your delivery.
Q&D: When “News you Can Use” plops into your in-box, read it. (If you don’t already receive it, click here)

Effective leadership

Effective leadership with trustees and staff who look at the bigger picture as well as the day-to-day
The proper way: Make sure that you have an effective and embedded strategic plan and use it to guide your work. Ensure that your Board is strong and has the appropriate skills, knowledge and time to support you.
Q&D: Book a one-to-one ‘surgery’ session with our Chief Exec Sue Dovey who will help you to diagnose and resolve your leadership issues. Or identify a local leader that you admire. Ask him/her to mentor you. I bet they’ll agree.

Well networked

Well networked and able to get support from and work in partnership with others
The proper way: There is a tendency to only network locally or within your cause area. However, there are real benefits of networking with other charities. It’s important not to be too narrow in focus when looking for other organisations you can work with and learn from. Additionally, if you’re not competing for funding this often allows greater honesty and peer support. So get out there and mingle, and use social media.
Q&D: Talk to us. We have over 1,000 members, many of whom are also looking for organisations to partner with. Tell us how we can help you! We might not be able to solve your problems, but we’ll always listen and try. Oh, and use social media.

Financially fit

Financially fit with sufficient income from a range of sources
The right way: Develop a financial strategy for your organisation, to help you plan for your financial future.
Q&D: Fill in the Income Pipeline template below and talk it through with your Board and staff. Ask yourself if your income is SUITABLE, STABLE and SUFFICIENT?

Income pipeline


Able to identify and communicate the need that they meet and the impact that they have
The proper way: Identifying the difference you want to make is the first step in the evaluation process. It can help you plan new work, and decide what information to collect to evaluate your programmes and services.
Q&D: Come on one of our “Measuring your Impact – the easy(ish) way” courses. It will only take 3 hours out of your life and give you a good starting point. Contact us to find out more.

Its easy to become paralysed with the scale of our challenges. Pick one of these Q&Ds and do it today. Then do another one tomorrow.

Kirsty Rowlinson, Head of Services