All good plans must start off from a logical point, which for a charity on the Pilotlight Programme is getting to know where it is now, where it aspires to go and ultimately what its destination is. Moving from the discovery phase to the planning phase, it’s important to support the charity to analyse its core reason for existing as it does today. Why did it start and what does that mean now? Our process helps the charity identify its place in the universe and ideally, its final destination or vision which can sometimes appear to be almost unreachable.
Know the goal
For example, the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s vision is:
“A world free from the effects of multiple sclerosis. Our ultimate goal is to find a cure. Until then, we will do all that we can to enable people with MS to live life, knowing that they do not have to face MS alone.”
The vision describes not only the world the MS Society dreams of helping to create but also what it plans to do in the short and medium term. The ultimate goal is a ‘cure’, the ending of the charity’s need to exist, but while the condition exists, the focus is enabling people affected ‘to live life’. The end of the journey is almost unknowable – will there be a cure in the future? The statement tells the reader that the shared effort to get to that point matters as much as the final destination.
In short, a vision is the future the charity wants to create for the community it wishes to have an impact on.
Creating a new or revised vision statement shouldn’t be a solitary exercise in producing a couple of eye-catching lines. At its best, it’s a collaborative and inclusive process with representations from across the charity, from volunteers to service managers. Sometimes, it comes quickly and at others, the charity will need to revisit the exercise several times. More often than not, Weston Charity Award winners working on their vision statement are supported by their team of Pilotlighters (our business volunteers) to uncover past, current and future thinking about what gap in need the charity is tackling. If the organisation is long established, what vision did the founders have? Is the need they identified different or even still there to the same extent? Whatever comes out at the end of the exercise, it’s important that every word speaks about the charity, and it’s as short and to the point as possible.
Once this work has been done, the challenge is to get the message out there and make sure the right people are listening. The vision encapsulates the charity’s values and ambition so it’s important that people within the charity share and understand the part they play. External stakeholders should also be able to understand what defines and drives the organisation so they too can spread the message.
A charity’s vision speaks about the world it’s fighting to make happen – what could be more important than that!
If you’re a charity that needs to develop the direction it's taking, applying to the Weston Charity Awards is a great way to get the business coaching you need to help you get there.