And what you’re doing to get yourself there? This is going to sound obvious to some of you, but it is useful to remind ourselves every now and then about some of the basics. It is far too easy to get caught up in day-to-day work and chasing funding and take your eye off the ball: the long-term objective of your organisation.
Like the sound advice I once had for being an entrepreneur:
don’t be so busy working in the business, that you don’t take time to work on the business
This rings true for NGOs too. Every now and then you’ve got to take time to look at the organisation and make sure that every project, every activity, every person is doing something that is working towards that long-term objective.
If there is a project that isn’t going to deliver results that contribute to that long-term objective you need to consider why and whether to change it or shut it down. Remember, spreading your work too thin or doing something that isn’t quite what you normally do is going to dilute your message, stretch your staff, reduce your impact on your beneficiaries and eventually reduce your income too. So while it sounds harsh to say that you might have to shut a project down, such decisions are normally taken with the broader organisational purpose in mind.
You should of course also take the time to review what your long-term objective is and what it should be. Sometimes this can also change. If the original purpose of the organisation changes and the trustees or members determine that they want the organisation to continue, then the long-term objective has to change. Of course, I’m a fan of organisations that have fulfilled their purpose closing down, but that’s another matter altogether.
There are some useful tools out there to help you with this sort of organisational review and planning process, like Theory of Change or causal chains, Balanced Scorecard, etc. Choosing the right framework will make all the difference to your success.
From an M&E perspective such clarity is helpful too. You know what data you are using for what purpose and therefore when and how often it has to be collected.
All round, regularly reviewing the focus of the organisation and how your work is feeding into that focus is a good thing.
How often does your organisation look at its long-term objective? Do you know that all the activities and work that you’re doing really do help to fulfil that objective or just fill up your diary?