Without a clear vision, you can’t have a clear strategy
It’s amazing how quickly everything can fall into place once an organisation clarifies its purpose. In my most recent project our volunteers (Pilotlighters) helped Murton Trust unblock the road to a clear strategy, and the result was a business plan and a three-year strategy that had organisational buy-in and ownership.
Murton Trust (MT), a small charity based in Angus, near Forfar, provides learning and development opportunities to people of all ages, through land management and environmental education. They came to Pilotlight for support in developing a strategy to diversify their income, and review and strengthen their governance. Our first few sessions focussed on understanding MT’s purpose, social impact, finances and structure. With both business and charitable objectives to meet as well as educational and environmental outcomes to deliver, it felt there were lots of different strands to the work MT does.
Questions emerged around who MT provides education for, even though the current focus was on young people. MT has numerous income generating opportunities from their land and there were many ideas on the table including log cabins, shops, and an outdoor pre-school nursery! The charity came to a crossroads during our engagement and had to decide the best direction to deliver the greatest impact possible, while maintaining a sustainable organisation.
The Pilotlighters consistently came back to this question of why MT existed in the first place. Who do they want to support? What do they want to achieve? What would the world look like without them? It was agreed we needed to nail this down before we would be able to support any development of a strategic plan or direction. To this end, the Pilotlight team facilitated a strategy afternoon on site where we looked at the charity’s purpose, impact, values, and explored what future success could look like.
Trustees, staff, and some service-users attended, and the Pilotlighters gave key questions to each group, which generated insightful debate. After further discussion we all came together and voted on the strongest vision statement produced and they decided to go with this:
'To provide a unique environment in which children, young people, and adults can learn and develop skills for life.'
This project reminded me once again how a strong vision not only provides direction, but more importantly inspires and encourages ownership. I’ve been a Project Manager at Pilotlight for three years now and this is a common theme to our work. Perhaps the most important result from our engagement with MT was the buy-in the CEO Alison Elliott got from everyone in the room, as the vision transcended the organisation and enriched everyone’s sense of purpose.
If you’d like to become a Pilotlighter and help make a difference to charities like Murton Trust see our members page.