Network of Regional Youth Work Units England blog

A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.

Charities and business cases

Business thinkingIn this week’s blog post, Lucy Sandford from Partnership for Young London looks at how a business approach can be adopted within a charity setting…

Partnership for Young London has, in recent times, seen a 50% turnover of staff with the welcome influx of new starters Sharon Long and Alex Nunn. So, it seemed timely to review our internal structures, along with our communication and strategic business plans – further emphasised by the current environment highlighting the need for a strong and robust business case.

In times when recording outcomes / measurements and demonstrating your impact are vital (and in my case, as a former monitoring information officer at Croydon Youth Service, absolutely crucial to anyone delivering any service) Best Value Performance Indicators seem another world away. We’ve been taking a hard look at ourselves and focusing on a business case which that will articulate our strengths, vision and objectives.

Coincidently, in my previous voluntary role as Clerk for Young Freemen, I had attended the very useful and interesting Lord Mayor’s Charity Leadership programme seminars, at which I bumped into the future Master of the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants, Patrick Chapman. (I’ll save the Livery system in the City of London and Young Freemen for a future blog.)

Talking to Patrick, he reminded me of the pro bono support the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants provide to support charities (and indeed as do many of the Livery Companies). So, after filling in a not too onerous form requesting support, we were pleased to be matched with Alan Buchan. Alan has significant experience of change management at a senior level in the civil service and with his patient guidance and early morning meetings, we have been working through the HM Treasury Five Case Model, concerned with delivering public value from spending proposals.

At first, it does seem a little overwhelming, but using a PRINCE2 philosophy the process has been broken down substantially so I can piece together different parts of the jigsaw. The Green Book supplementary guidance is 152 pages long, but it’s the headings and structures which have lent themselves well.

The Five Case Model methodology has been used successfully by UK government departments and the wider public sector for many years and has now been adopted and widely copied around the world. It comprises the following five key components: The Strategic Case; The Economic Case; The Commercial Case; The Financial Case and The Management Case. I have spent a lot of time (possibly a bit too much) preparing the Strategic Outline Case, and have been assured that the rest will follow easily. We are mid-process, currently with more work to be done but getting the mentoring and support has enabled me to develop my skills, embrace new challenges and make the necessary revisions!

I had always wondered about this integration of our various worlds with PRINCE2 and the different businesses models, but in the cold light of day and using the methodology in my day to day work, I can see the benefits of the process and how a business case is vital to the backbone of an organisation; underpinning much of what we do and enabling an effective reporting process; as much internally but to trustees and funders alike. I think it’s great for the accountability of the organisation and I can now see how staff appraisals and impact can be linked.

Whilst I appreciate many charities don’t always feel comfortable with being compared to businesses, I think if we truly want to be open, transparent and operate effectively and maximise our benefit to our beneficiaries, it’s worth considering.

 

Lucy Sandford, Development Manager – Partnership for Young London

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This entry was posted on October 31, 2014 by in Partnership for Young London and tagged , , .
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