The Road Ahead

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Involving people in developing your strategy

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Use this page to learn who to involve in developing your strategy and how best to engage them.

Why involving people is important

It’s important to involve a wide range of people in developing your strategy for three reasons:

  1. Hearing and considering a diverse range of experiences and perspectives will help you make better decisions.
  2. Involving people in the process of deciding on your strategy will help them to feel connected to the organisation and make the strategy a success.
  3. The process of developing the strategy is as important as the strategy itself. The conversations you have along the way help people to really understand the strategy and their role in it.

Consider who you want to engage

This could include:

  • trustees
  • staff
  • volunteers
  • those you seek to serve
  • funders
  • organisations and movements you work with
  • organisations involved in your area of work.

Have a think about the points below.

  • When in the process you most want to hear from people, and whose perspectives and contributions will be most helpful at which stage.
  • What kind of knowledge and insight you need and what data already exists. For example, are you looking for insight, ideas, or feedback.
  • Why you’re looking for the knowledge and insight you’re seeking and what kinds of knowledge and insight could be missing.

The role of leaders and trustees

Trustee boards set the direction for the organisation and map out the strategy the organisation follows. Depending on the size of your organisation, your strategy process may be led by trustees, by senior management, or by other members of staff.

However, the leadership of the organisation's strategy rests with the board so it’s essential they have oversight over the process, are engaged throughout and support the decisions made.

Read information in our governance section on board responsibilities.

Involving staff and volunteers

Your volunteers and staff have rich experience of what you do and what people and communities need.

How you involve volunteers and staff will depend on how you intend to make decisions.

It’s important to be realistic, open and honest about how much influence people can have at different stages of the strategy development process.

Ask yourselves how:

  • much power you want to distribute
  • transparent and inclusive can you make the process
  • open you are to new ideas and solutions.

Be aware of people’s capacity and be sensitive to barriers that may stop them engaging.

If you employ staff, and the process may result in changes to roles, be open and transparent about this from the start. It’s also important to be clear about how everyone can be involved in the process and who will make final decisions.

Involving people outside your organisation

The people you seek to serve, other organisations involved in your area of work (whether you currently collaborate with them or not), funders and others with an interest in or connection to your work (often called ‘stakeholders’) all have important perspectives and insight.

How easily you can engage them will depend on:

  • the legitimacy you have with them
  • the trust they have in you.

When involving staff and volunteers, ask yourselves how:

  • much power you want to distribute
  • transparent and inclusive you can make the process
  • open you are to new ideas and solutions.

An important wider consideration is to make sure that your organisation is taking the steps required to meaningfully consider equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in your organisation.

Read more about this on our governance pages on EDI.

Understanding how engagement works with your community

It’s important to understand how engagement works for different groups and people in your community.

Marginalised groups and those with lived experience (with particular identity markers such as protected characteristics, class, seniority, and disability) are more likely to engage if:

  • there's support in place for them
  • they're comfortable that their views are encouraged and considered equally
  • they see themselves reflected in the people who make decisions.

Last reviewed: 04 July 2022

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 04 July 2022

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