Small & medium-sized voluntary organisations
We believe organisations that flourish and thrive are those that are self-determining and able to seek, engage with and make use of support in order to learn, adapt and improve.
We encourage organisations to put their values and mission first to ensure that any changes they make are rooted in why their organisation exists and what it stands for. And we encourage funders to consider operating flexible funding that will help organisations navigate challenges and change.
Values & mission first
Achieving a meaningful connection
Our support is always carried out by people who have worked in the voluntary sector for many years as volunteers, practitioners, trustees and researchers; all have extensive experience of supporting organisational development and change. This enables us to establish a meaningful and useful connection with each organisation and gives them the confidence to be open and honest with us about the challenges and choices that they face.
As well as delivering practical, hands-on support to organisations e.g. reviewing a funding bid or facilitating a board meeting – we always encourage them to step back from their immediate, pressing concerns and reflect on fundamental questions such as: Who are we? What are we trying to achieve? What do we need to do to get there? This contributes to organisations feeling stronger and better equipped for the future.
Three core characteristics
It begins with a practical problem, challenge or opportunity
It is rooted in an understanding of the history, values and context of each organisation
We help organisations find their own realistic and workable responses to the challenges they face
A homelessness charity wanting to broaden focus
This charity was set up to work with homeless people, but wanted to broaden its focus to engage with the wider community. This was based on the view that homelessness is a community concern.
During the review, the charity identified three key challenges:
- Difficulty articulating the difference the organisation makes to multiple stakeholders
- Lack of a clear mission statement setting out the new direction
- How to best use findings from multiple previous consultants
IVAR needed to deliver flexible support that was able to adapt to the organisation’s changing needs. In particular, we had to be careful not to duplicate previous consultancy, but rather to support the charity to implement and act on the findings of these other interventions.
Key outcomes of the strategic review were:
- A new and agreed mission statement
- Mentoring and supporting the CEO, looking at how best the charity might pursue its goals
- A review of previous research and consultancy, with support offered to implement the findings
Community centre – back on track after major upheaval
This community centre had been through a period of major upheaval at the time of the strategic review. The founding director left, as did three subsequent replacements. Shortly after the review began the new Director and General Manager also resigned. The organisation faced significant and pressing financial issues, as well as an urgent need to recruit new senior staff.
Key challenges identified:
- Half the trustees were new, and the organisation needed to recruit two senior positions
- There had historically been poor relationships between the Chairs and Directors
- The Board was not operating as a cohesive group
- Low staff morale, linked to a lack of understanding of the organisation’s overall mission and values
IVAR interviewed staff and trustees, and offered a range of support including:
- Mentoring to the Chair
- Writing a report for the away day outlining key findings from the interviews
- Supporting the Board to come to a decision about restructuring the senior staff posts
As a result of the support, the Board decided not to appoint another Director, but to bring joint interim managers into the strategic review process and to review the overall staff structure.
Learn more about IVAR