As 2018 kicks in, offering us a blank slate and wealth of new possibilities, many of us have been setting our New Year resolutions: promising ourselves we will exercise more, spend more time with family and cut down on sugar and alcohol to ultimately be happier and healthier.
But how many of us have been setting New Year resolutions for our organisations?
How many of us are making the most of the optimistic mood and the motivation that a new year brings not just for ourselves but for our charities and community groups too?
To get your organisation off to a flying start in 2018, we at Visionary have been reflecting over the challenges and opportunities of 2017; and we have come up with five ideas that our members can adopt as New Year’s resolutions to help achieve those big goals
New Year Resolutions
Resolution #1: Make branding consistent
Goal: Attract support and recognition from the community
Your branding is your identity. It’s what sets you apart from any other organisation; makes you recognisable; and it communicates what you do, your values and how you want to be perceived.
Clear and consistent branding can be the difference between someone recognising you as the place to go for support with sight loss or remaining isolated and confused about where to go. It can be the difference between someone remembering to leave a legacy to your organisation in their will or opting for another charity.
Think about all opportunities you have to promote your brand and create a checklist to ensure it is there each time. This might include:
- Volunteers or staff wearing a T-shirt or jumper with your brand on at all times, or even a lanyard or badge for a smaller expense
- Your name and logo displayed prominently in every room in your centre
- A template for any internal or external facing documents where your brand is the most prominent feature
- A PVC banner or portable stand displayed at every public facing event
- Email signatures, voicemail messages, letterheads, newsletters, websites all communicating the same branding in as near enough the same format
- Ensuring all staff and volunteers can introduce the organisation name and a couple of sentences about it when meeting people externally
- Putting stickers with your brand on all office equipment that you own
- Using a self-inking stamp for your organisation’s name, address and number to go on the back of envelopes or for when you run out of leaflets or business cards
The key is consistency. Try to introduce processes to ensure that for everything your deliver, branding has been considered. For example, a volunteer induction checklist might include a checkbox for a T-shirt being issued and the volunteer being able to quote the organisation’s name and a thirty second explanation of what it does.
Resolution #2: Destroy outdated and inaccurate records
Goal: Ensure compliance with current and upcoming data protection legislation
Are you one of those organisations that keeps data about people indefinitely ‘just in case’? It’s not uncommon, but it should be.
The main piece of legislation for data protection currently is the Data Protection Act (1998) which sets out the principle that requires you to retain personal data no longer than is necessary for the purpose you obtained it for. New data protection legislation from the EU (General Data Protection Regulation) comes into effect on 25 May 2018, but it maintains the same principle when it comes to retention of records. The difference is that organisations will be expected to be far more accountable now. So it’s time to delete or archive that personal data you are holding ‘just in case’. This goes for both paper and digital records, so if you delete something on your database but have an original paper copy, you need to destroy that paper copy too.
There is no time limit set out in the legislation for holding personal data, however you are expected to have documented how long you hold different types of data for and the justification for doing so. Holding information indefinitely isn’t wrong if you have a documented and reasonable justification doing so. This may be set out in a ‘Retention Policy’. Although it is highly unlikely you can justify holding most data indefinitely.
Information that is likely to be inaccurate must either be updated or destroyed. The address of someone who accessed your services ten years ago is likely to be inaccurate. If someone was 95 when they accessed your service ten years ago, it is likely they are deceased and therefore it is not justifiable to keep their contact information.
First of all you will need to do an inventory of what personal data you keep and what categories it falls under (uniquely identifiable data; health data; genetic data etc.). You will also need to document for what purpose you have that information (to provide a service, to fulfill a contract, to fundraise etc.). For each purpose and category you will need to decide your justification for how long you keep it and what you do with it once it’s no longer relevant or accurate or appropriate to retain.
Whilst GDPR does not set a time limit, you may have other retention obligations, for example relating to holding the register and keeping information updated, or information you hold on individuals that relate to a contract you are commissioned to deliver. You also have an obligation to tell people whose data you hold, what your retention policy is, often done through a Privacy Notice.
Resolution #3: Measure outcomes
Goal: Use evidence to demonstrate the value of your work
Make a commitment to ensuring that all staff and volunteers understand the difference between these two basic concepts:
- Outputs = What you deliver
- Outcomes = The difference/change you make
Then ensure that all those involved in delivery are supported to measure both.
It can be quite easy to measure indicators for outputs such as number of people attending an event; number of hours of one-to-one support delivered; number of leaflets distributed; number of visitors to the website. You can often collect this information from registers; stock inventory; website or social media analytics.
But many find it more challenging to measure indicators for outcomes such as the number of people who have learned to send emails by themselves; the level of confidence making hot meals independently that people report; the number of people who have reduced their risk of tripping or falling at home, or the level of wellbeing that family of people with sight loss report.
Ideally you will decide what outcomes you want to measure at the start of a project or programme and design a way of collecting information about those indicators. An entry and exit questionnaire is a very popular and credible way of measuring the difference you make.
However, if you are past this stage, it’s still not too late. Decide as soon as possible what outcomes (what difference) you are most concerned about achieving. You will achieve so much change for people, but you cannot measure it all so you need to pick your top three or four outcomes for example that you care about most.
You can then analyse information you have already, for example case notes on clients, to see how many people from the notes appear to have achieved a particular direction of change. You could bring together a focus group of people who have accessed a service and ask them about the changes they have experienced since using the service and see how many people respond saying they have experienced the outcomes you wanted to achieve for them.
Resolution #4: Tell your story
Goal: Improve income from fundraising
Some organisations have a fundraising or income development team; some have volunteer fundraisers; some rely on the CEO or senior management to bring in the money; some leverage influence of trustees. If you commit to making income generation connected to your core work, then everyone in your organisation is a fundraiser and you maximize your opportunity to increase your income.
Anyone who is a volunteer, staff member or trustee should be able to tell others the answers to the following:
- Who we are
- What we do
- Why do we do it
- How do we do it
- What is the impact of our programmes
- Who do we work with – partners
- How much income do we need to generate
- How are we funded
You might want to create a document that answers these questions for them that enables them to understand for themselves and then be able to repeat it to anyone who could be a potential supporter from service users and their families to local businesses. You could make this part of an induction plan for any volunteer, staff or trustee or run through it at a board meeting or team meeting to help existing staff to do it too.
Resolution #5: Involve more people with sight loss in the organisation
Goal: Improve relevance and accessibility of services to people with sight loss
In Visionary, based on the information fed back to us by our membership, we have calculated that around 15% of staff in the Visionary membership have a visual impairment. In some organisations this is as high as 80% and in others as low as 0%.
When the identity of the people you serve is reflected in the make up of the organisation’s personnel and decision makers, not only might you attract more people to your services, but the design and delivery of services in theory should be more relevant and accessible when designed by people with sight loss for people with sight loss. Some refer to this as ‘co-production’; others such as the BIG Lottery refer to this as ‘putting people in the lead’.
The first step to ensuring your personnel are reflective of the people you serve would be to record how many of your volunteers, staff and trustees are themselves affected by sight loss and what this number is as a percentage of the total. Only then you can measure which direction you are travelling in and create a strategy for attracting more candidates for these positions who are directly affected by sight loss.
The second step is to explore how the people you serve might be directly involved in influencing decision making. This could be anything from establishing a project board which includes service users, to setting a quota of service users who must be represented at a meeting where crucial decisions are made, to establishing a consultative group that you liaise with on a set basis such as every quarter. Some organisations have even gone as far as to establish ‘Sight Loss Councils’ and ‘VI Parliaments’ where volunteers are elected to serve and represent the community of people living with sight loss.
These are just a few ideas to get you started, but you may have other organisational priorities or areas that you want to focus on strengthening this year. Whatever they may be, make a clear and committed plan in the form of a resolution that all staff, volunteers and trustees are aware of and make the most of the momentum that 2018 brings to make sure you reach those ultimate goals.
If you want more information on any of the issues mentioned above, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org