Charity Support, Advice, Impact Measurement, Philanthropy Impact – NPC

Football and charities: sharing tactics

By Abigail Rotheroe 30 September 2013

‘What do you do all day at work Mum?’

‘Well, its all about strategy really.’

Blank face.

‘How one approaches things.’

Still blank face.

At this point I was about to launch into Porter, Mintzberg and consultant speak when I realised it’s actually much more straightforward. Certainly simple enough for a 10 year old. So I took a step back.

‘Remember your football match at the weekend?’


‘Well that was all about strategy.’


‘Well, having a plan for something—whether it’s a 5 a side football game in the park, world domination or a charity’s future direction—needs an understanding of three things: what you want to do (your objectives); how you are going to achieve it (your resources); and where you are planning to do it (your environment).’

‘Why does everything come in threes?’ 

‘It just does.’ 

And then I was off ….

  • The team’s plan was to win the game: charities want to achieve positive change.
  • The resources of the 5 a side team were 9 small boys (rolling subs!): charities fortunately have skilled people, volunteers, and money.
  • The environment on the football pitch was in favour of those in studs: charities face a slippery environment of skyrocketing need.

So, by putting all this information together a strategy will start to emerge.

NPC’s approach to strategy reviews doesn’t involve muddy fields and hoofing the ball to Josh the striker, but it does involve working closely with charities, and using tools adapted for the sector to identify options.

  • We use a theory of change approach to pin down what the charity wants to achieve and how to do it.
  • We use our organisational analysis based on The little blue book to assess resources and competencies.
  • And we use our sector knowledge alongside traditional strategy models to analyse the need and the market.

These come together neatly in our strategy triangle shown below.


‘So how does the offside trap come into this?’, my son asks.

‘No idea’, I reply.