Approaches to Strategic Planning

Charity Law and Regulation

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Charity Law and Regulation

The Charity Commission's guidance CC10 'The Hallmarks of an Effective Charity' ( ) is one of a number of documents relating to charity law and regulation. This advice is aimed at Trustees and the general public. Some of the advice involves legal requirements, while other aspects are recommended practice.

The Trustee Network ( makes the following point about the Charity Commission guidance:

'Although the principles on which the Hallmarks are based will be relevant for all charities, the way in which they can be achieved will vary with the size, income, complexity and activities of each charity.'

This is important, as Charities with substantial income and infrastructure are able to approach governance and management in very different ways from those which are smaller, or embryonic. Nevertheless, there are some aspects of this guidance which are crucially related to strategic planning. Read Hallmarks 1, 4, 5 and 6 to explore this further.

Strategic planning is usually defined as a series of activities which includes:

  • defining an organisation's mission

  • analysing its ability to carry out the mission

  • setting objectives in terms of planning and budgeting

Strategic planning processes should provide evidence and reasons for any changes made, and discussions will arise from ongoing reflection and analysis, reviewing existing strategies and considering how relevant they are to the current context. Strategic planning cannot be done without reference to external factors, including technology, politics, economics and social change.
These different stages mean that Strategic Planning poses challenges for management and governance

  • Every aspect of the organisation should be involved - this may impact on culture and performance

  • The process needs to be resourced and managed and it can be expensive

  • Detailed feedback and information are required, and the data collection, analysis and conclusions may not be comfortable or easy to take

  • Organisations are not closed systems isolated from their environment: its important to consider data and analysis about the external operating context

  • Strategic planning needs following through - the processes can’t be left hanging in the air

  • Strategic planning can be most valuable if it’s an organic process, rather than a ‘one off’ event.

These points are often made as justification for not engaging in strategic development.

Here are some reasons why the pain is worth the gain:

  • It's good practice to develop processes which involve ongoing monitoring and review, and regular feedback into decision-making.

  • Decisions made on the basis of inadequate information place an organisation and its funding at risk.

  • Voluntary sector organisations often face unpredictable changes. A strategic approach will help to meet key Aims and Objectives in a flexible way.

  • Strategic planning looks towards the future, by making sense of the past and anticipating necessary changes.

Read more about the consequences of strategic planning here:

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