Strategic planning in small voluntary sector organisations in Edinburgh : a case study approach to preparing small charities to use strategic planning models and tools
Grant, Florence Elvira Hill
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This thesis is a case study of six organisations and two pilot organisations to investigate the implementation of strategic planning in small charitable organisations in the voluntary sector in Edinburgh. The case studies utilised semi-structured interviews, observations and questionnaires on multiple occasions over a two-year time period. The data collected provided insight into the financial management systems utilised by these organisations and the training level attained by the financial person of each of the organisations. The findings supported the concept that the more developed the training of the financial person, the more developed the level of planning attained and the more complex the funding arrangements accessed by that organisation become. The research also supported the position that the barriers to planning were the same barriers that have been previously noted in the literature as indigenous to the voluntary sector: time, money, resources, and communication. In addition, the research developed evidence to support a listing of characteristics which are indicative of when an organisation is ready to plan more strategically. These include such items as a teamwork approach, knowing the staff and their backgrounds, knowing and planning for the training needs of staff, supporting the staff, and developing in the staff the feeling that they can talk to their supervisor. The research also developed that there are certain general characteristics, such as being aware of changes in the law, having, and being perceived to have, fair and up to date policies and procedures as being indicative of an organisation which is ready for the changes intrinsic in the implementation of strategic planning models involving continuous improvement such as the EFQM Excellence Model®. Although the organisations are not opposed to planning in general and strategic planning in particular, the need for survival by conforming to the requirements of funders takes precedence over longer term planning. Part of the impetus for this behaviour is the evocative behaviour of supporting 'the cause' for which they were founded. Frequently in the voluntary sector, 'the cause' also involves working with vulnerable groups of people. The limited progress observed in their strategic planning indicated that the period of time available for observation was too short and the measurements needed to be taken too soon.