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Rethinking strategy: Being resilient, agile and adaptive during Covid-19 and beyond

By Charlotte Lamb 16 November 2020 3 minute read

A few weeks ago, Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) launched The Resilience Fund—a £20m fund that will provide flexible grants for charities supporting vulnerable people and communities hit by the coronavirus crisis. More funding for charities looking to build resilience and manage this crisis is very welcome news. But it is another reminder of the extensive need and ongoing challenges that still lie ahead for the sector.

This pandemic is not your average crisis, and the consequences cannot be overcome with extra funding alone. Such a seismic shift could be thought of less as a hurdle to be overcome, but more as a moment in time. A moment to reassess how we operate and bring about positive change. A moment to reimagine and consider systemic change in our sector. As Matt Hyde, CEO of the Scouts, put it in this blog last week, ‘difficult, courageous decisions [are] now needed to build the future.’ But how do we go about seizing this moment in time?

We need to ‘Rethink, Rebuild’

NPC’s new initiative—‘Rethink, Rebuild’—hopes to help the sector do just that. With this work, we want to champion and support the sector to build resilience and to adapt, but also to be ambitious, and challenge long-held imbalances, inequalities and systemic dysfunctions.

We’ll be taking what we call a ‘Labs’ approach, convening different voices in order to understand what these aspirations really mean and to explore tangible solutions. This approach means that we want an open conversation. We want to speak to and hear from a wide range of individuals from the sector, through webinars and surveys, and we want to share what we are up to and learning along the way through those same channels. It also means we’ll be open in how this work evolves, and not setting a rigid agenda.

The ‘Rethink Strategy Lab’

As part of this approach, the ‘Rethink Strategy Lab’ will explore what it means for charities to be resilient, agile and adaptive, within and beyond the age of Covid-19 (and how funders can help them achieve this).

The sector has been pondering this since the start of the pandemic, and we have been sharing our thoughts on how we might adapt—from thinking about shifting strategies to considering more agile strategy approaches. Now that we are facing a long, drawn out crisis, we need to take this further, and seriously rethink how we do things.

Through the ‘Rethink Strategy Lab’, we want to understand and explore ways to be resilient, agile and adaptive, and consolidate and share our learnings and reflections, so that the wider sector can benefit. This work is focussed on helping charities to weather the storm, but also on helping them create cultures that will sustain long-term resilience and agility. We will:

  • Convene and run a peer network of charity leaders and managers, who are contemplating how to make their strategies more adaptive and resilient. We hope this brings together those in the sector who are grappling with the same challenges, to explore questions and solutions.
  • Reach out to those also grappling with these challenges, to get their perspectives and to talk through the various challenges and possible solutions.
  • Connect and collaborate with other organisations, or existing collaborations and programmes exploring this work, such as the CAF Resilience Programme.
  • Regularly share and disseminate insight and learning, offer practical advice, and invite comments and challenges. We will decide how to do this depending on the content, but expect to run a series of webinars, blogs—or maybe even a podcast!

Get involved

I’d like to encourage individuals in lots of different roles, from various organisations, to take part in this work. If you would like to join our peer network, be part of the conversation in another way, or just follow the ‘Lab’s’ progress, please get in touch with me at

This crisis is a moment in time. A moment to reassess our strategies and bring about positive change. A moment to consider systemic change in our sector: Click To Tweet