Heart of the City (HOTC) is an innovative charity, housed and primarily funded by the City of London Corporation, which aims to drive responsible business practice amongst small and medium enterprises (SMEs), through workshops, masterclasses and expert mentoring. Its foundation programme helps organisations design and implement strategic plans to support their local community, reduce their environmental impact, build more diverse workforces and look after their employees’ well-being. HOTC commissioned NPC to conduct a review of its strategy, impact practice, finances, and funding environment, to help it improve its practice and inform critical decisions as to the charity’s future.
The review was split into three parts: 1) an internal review of resources and capabilities, 2) an external review of external stakeholders’ perceptions of the organisation and its broader funding environment, and 3) an analysis of the organisation’s future strategic options. For the internal review, we first reviewed key guiding documents, including HOTC’s business plan, theory of change and measurement tools. We then interviewed key staff, advisors, and trustees in the organisation. For the external review, we reviewed funding documents and interviewed external stakeholders, including officers and elected members of the City of London Corporation. We consolidated our findings into reports that assessed the charity’s strengths and weaknesses, using an adapted version of NPC’s What makes a good charity? framework, and we made recommendations for improvements. For the future strategic options analysis, we drew out high-level strategic options for the trustees and the Director to consider, fine-tuned them in collaboration, and designed and delivered a virtual workshop to assess them. Finally, we wrote up our recommendations and insights and presented them to the board.
HOTC found the process to be informative and helpful. They have used the research process to engage staff, trustees and external stakeholders in their work, shape a critical funding bid, and to drive consensus amongst decision-makers on key decisions. Going forward, they intend to use the research findings to update their business plan and improve their impact practice.