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The Robertson Trust

The challenge

The Robertson Trust—the largest independent grant-making trust in Scotland—commissioned NPC to support its strategy development throughout 2019. Against a backdrop of growing demand for its funding, The Robertson Trust was keen to develop an overarching strategy with a clear shared sense of purpose and coherent narrative for its work.

The approach

In January 2019, NPC worked closely with the Chair, CEO, Senior Management Team and selected trustees to agree the scope and parameters for the strategy renewal. We designed the process around NPC’s strategy triangle, which provides charities and funders with a framework for thinking about strategy development. We focused our work on two corners of the strategy triangle—exploring The Robertson Trust’s core purpose and external environment—while The Robertson Trust carried out a review of its internal resources and capabilities.

To explore The Robertson Trust’s core purpose, we worked iteratively with staff and trustees, including facilitating internal workshops on vision, mission and values. As the strategy development progressed, staff and trustees took greater ownership of the process—for example, a group of staff led the development of The Robertson Trust’s refreshed values—with NPC increasingly moving to a critical friend role.

To understand the external environment, we engaged with over 600 people through a grant holder survey and held five focus groups with charities across Scotland. We also held interviews with funders across the UK, to understand how funder practices are changing, their perceptions of The Robertson Trust, and how they would like to work with The Robertson Trust. We brought together our research to help The Robertson Trust understand where it sits in the Scottish funder landscape, the opportunities and challenges faced by its grant holders, and what it means to be a funder in the 21st century.

NPC then worked with the trustees, Senior Management Team and wider staff to bring together insights from across the process and to clarify the strategic choices that needed making. We facilitated a series of workshops to assess strategic options, prioritise activities, consider implications, and refine details. The trustees signed off on the new strategic direction at the end of 2019 and we continued to provide critical friend support as the strategy was finalised, before its launch in September 2020.

The result

The Robertson Trust’s 2020-30 strategy commits to investing £250m over the next ten years to improve the well-being of people affected by poverty or trauma in Scotland. This new strategy sees The Robertson Trust become more focused and more joined-up across their work to meet Scotland’s changing needs. Through the strategy development process, The Robertson Trust deepened its understanding of its role and how it can use all of its assets—including its funding, networks, resources, learning and voice—in pursuit of its mission.

We would not be where we are today without NPC support on our strategy process. NPC stretched us, challenged us, kept us on track and made us realise what we are capable of.

Shonaig Macpherson
Chair of the Board, The Robertson Trust

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