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All articles and quotes on this page draw from IVAR’s research, particularly from our work with voluntary & community organisations.

Where to start with reviewing strategy in a short, focused time frame. 

The basics


What is a strategic review? 


A strategic review is about ‘taking a step back and looking at where you are really heading, then planning the steps you need to take to get there‘. It is an opportunity focus on the whole organisation and its wider context, rather than pressing operational issues.


Strategic Review 1


Strategic review - what to think about
before you start


  • What question is the review trying to answer?

  • Who is going to be involved in the review?

  • How is the review going to be managed?

  • Is the review going to be facilitated?

Strategic Review 1


What question is the review trying to answer?


We have found that it is useful for organisations to ask a broad and far-reaching starting question for the review. This is a reminder that this is more than a strategic planning process; it involves revisiting and renewing your mission and how it is put into practice.

Strategic Review 1


Who is going to be involved
in the review?


Involving all staff on an equal footing helps to ensure buy-in to the process. Depending on the size and make up of the board, you may want to involve trustees in a similar way, or choose to work with a smaller group that reports back to the full board. Other groups (such as volunteers, service users, funders and partners) should also be involved.

Strategic Review 1


How is the review going to be managed?


Both the Chair and the CEO need to be closely involved in the process - working alongside, or with the full support of trustees.

Strategic Review 1


Is the review going to be facilitated?


A strategic review can bring up issues that are organisationally challenging, as well as personally complex for people taking part. This can be sensitive, and many organisations find that they benefit from external facilitation from someone who understands the voluntary sector.



This is about the big decisions. The ones that keep you up at night but also get you out of bed each morning.


Dr Sam Brier, IVAR Associate and Trustee

Hear from voluntary organisations

We support small voluntary and community organisations to look to the future, assess changes in the external environment and find their own responses.


How do we ensure a long-term presence in a community when we’re dealing with funding strands and other things that come and go?’

Tim Elgar, e:merge

Further reading

Photo of Marilyn Taylor

06 November 2016

Getting on the impact bandwagon

Marilyn Taylor

IVAR associate, Professor Marilyn Taylor shares her thinking on Impact.

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Learn more about IVAR