Murton Trust (MT) is a small charity based in Angus, near Forfar, which provides learning and development opportunities to people of all ages, through land management and environmental education. MT has a visitor farm, tea room, nature reserve, and educational centre, which they utilise to engage, educate, increase skills and employment opportunities, and enhance well-being.
MT came to Pilotlight for support in developing a strategy to diversify its income, and review and strengthen its governance. Following a 10-year funding arrangement with Inspiring Scotland in 2008 to start its educational training with young people, MT was now ready to plan for its next stage of development. Being new to the role of CEO at MT, Alison Elliot was keen to ensure a sustainable future as possible for the charity.
What we did
The first few sessions focussed on understanding the different strands and aims of MT, in terms of its business, environmental, and educational objectives, and learning more about MT’s governance structure. During this time, questions were also emerging around who MT should provide education for, and how MT should best utilise its land to generate income. There were lots of discussions on the table, but turning the discussions into a strategy was proving challenging.
The Pilotlighters listened carefully, asked questions, provided guidance, and more importantly challenged MT through all these discussions. The team consistently brought MT back to the question of why MT existed in the first place – this needed to be clarified before any decisions could be made. To this end, the team facilitated a strategy afternoon where we looked at purpose, impact, values, and future, and supported the charity to create a new vision statement.
The next steps were to develop this vision into a written strategy and plan for the team to take forward. The main task in achieving this was to help increase Alison’s capacity as a new CEO, through increasing trustee ownership, and encouraging Alison to delegate. The team supported Alison and the board to write a new job description for Alison and all staff members, and the decision was taken to increase the admin worker hours.
After this, everything started to fall into place very quickly, and the result was a new three-year strategy and business plan the charity could take forward. In Alison’s words,
"At the start of the process our organisation wanted a three-year strategy but were not in the position to create one. Pilotlight provided structure and perspective that allowed us to come together to ensure that our final document was one that everyone could follow and get behind. Creating a clear vision, with open and frank discussion was absolutely key to this."
Perhaps most importantly, was the buy-in Alison got from everyone in the organisation, as the engagement developed a renewed sense of purpose and ownership amongst the board, and helped everyone to take a step back to look at their roles and responsibilities.
In the words of Pilotlighter Don Robertson,
"MT is now in a stronger position to move forward together with a clear vision of its future, and it was wonderful to be part of this process!"