Over the last few years, I have taken a great deal of interest in third sector roles and am always interested in new trusteeships where I think I can help.
The Covid 19 pandemic has however changed the landscape for the third sector, so it is vital that Charities and other not for profit organisations make sure that they are fit for purpose.
Any organisation relying on consumer donations or investment returns is going to be facing an income crisis as we move into 2021. It is absolutely vital that charities build a resilience plan – imagine the worst possible case, and then add layers on that depending on your reading of the market in which you operate.
Know your numbers with a laser focus, take advantage of all governmental and NGO support, and importantly, keep communicating – to your past funders, supporters and givers, and be active on social media.
A resilience plan needs to have three stages which relate to the next three stages the country and the marketplace is likely to go through.
The first stage is starting – how do you come out of lockdown and restart? The key thing is still to keep communicating. Make sure that you have taken advantage of any financial help that is available. But importantly start to build a picture of what the charity will be like in its barest form. How many people do you need? Can they work safely? Who do you need to work with? You need to keep looking at your strategic touchpoints – never before have the basic tools of business planning been more vital for third sector organisations – review your business model, your operations, your environment, update your analysis tools and keep refining them as things change. The longer the lockdown and additional measures go on, habits will change, attitudes will change. Things will not go back to “normal” because “normal” won’t exist anymore.
The second stage is the most fluid – because it depends on the economy. There seems to be little doubt that we will be experiencing one of the greatest economic shocks ever seen in this country. So, whilst there may be a quick boost as lockdown eases, the economic reality will then kick in. Don’t therefore assume that the boost is permanent – don’t rush to expand or restart initiatives only to find the funding disappears again. Size your operation on the low point, not the high.
The last stage is the recovery phase which may be two years away. Don’t rush it – it will come eventually. The key is to know what you are aiming for – hard work and hard decisions taken now will allow you to look back in the recovery phase and see what you have got right. But remember, to look back, you need to still be there.
Your organisation has a critical role to play and a demand to fill. Try to stay positive – Keep focused on your objects and remember why you are there in the first place. It keeps the feet on the ground.