Charity Conference flyer

Who’s important to you?

By Anne Kazimirski 24 October 2014

As a charity, who are your stakeholders? At yesterday’s impact conference, Bobby Duffy from Ipsos Mori shared information on public attitudes towards charities (levels of trust remain higher than they are for politicians and the media, but below those of doctors). But the importance of this to your work will very much depend on the type of charity you are.

So who else matters, apart from the public? I expect funders will always sit top of mind. But how often do you reflect on the partnerships that facilitate your work, or provide input that helps you to improve your services?

Emma Hanson, from Kent County Council, said she was keen to co-produce solutions with the voluntary sector, and move away from the traditional power dynamic of funder versus service provider. Are we as charities doing all we can to take the same approach? Do we see commissioners and funders as a source of expertise as well as cash?

For some of you, your beneficiaries will also interact with statutory bodies, such as social services, schools, the police. Clashes or misunderstandings can occur given the different priorities and aims of different institutions. Are you putting enough energy in making sure these relationships are as good as they can be?

Emma Hanson also reminded us to work together. Are you making the most of overlapping interests with other charities, for example? Whether to bid for contracts in partnership, share evidence about what works, or collaborate on articulating what you are trying to achieve and how to best measure the impact of your sector? Diana Tickell from Barnardo’s urged us not to reinvent the wheel in working out our approaches to impact measurement, and to ‘steal with pride’.

Karen Ogborn, from Crimestoppers, explained how consultation with staff and volunteers is essential to find out what they want to know about how effective their work is.

And last, but not least, are you talking to your beneficiaries about what they think of your services, and what they think their outcomes are? Harriet Stranks from Lloyds Bank Foundation pressed us  to build them into our evaluation plans however we can.

Maximise the support you get by mapping out who your stakeholders are, their role in helping you, and what you can do to improve those relationships or facilitate their contribution. Good relationships are key to being an effective charity.