"David is exceptionally talented at drawing things out of people. He makes sure everyone has a voice and poses questions that make trustees think in real depth. It’s extraordinary what he manages to get out of people and what we achieved in six or seven hours. That is down to his skill in running the day but also those vital interviews he did beforehand. When he turns up on the day, he already knows the trustees very well. "
Juliet Ames-Lewis, Director, The Richmond Charities
Helping an historic charity to modernise
client: The richmond charities
The Richmond Charities is an almshouse charity, established 400 years ago in Richmond-upon-Thames, which provides housing to local elderly residents who need an improvement in their living conditions. The board had an established schedule of five-yearly strategic reviews but new Director Juliet Ames-Lewis wanted these reviews to be more about strategy and less about tying up loose ends. Having worked with David Saint in her previous role at another charity, she asked Action Planning to help steer the board towards an exciting new plan for growing the charity.
Our brief was to coax the board towards a new way of approaching the planning process, beginning with a review of the progress of the priorities set five years previously, followed by broader agreement on the charity’s vision, mission and philosophy, and the setting of strategic objectives.
We planned an awayday for all the trustees to come together and discuss the charity’s values and goals. It was important to make sure they came with open minds, not fixed views, so we began a month ahead of the awayday, conducting one-to-one interviews to tease out their individual priorities and desires. This helped to create a very open attitude at the awayday, which enabled us to make good progress.
The awayday yielded a vision, mission and philosophy that are now fit for purpose, along with three key objectives: to develop more almshouses; to continue ongoing refurbishment work on existing almshouses; and to build a more vibrant, active community for residents. Each objective had a number of action points, several of which have been accomplished or are ongoing, including the completed purchase of £5 million worth of new almshouses.
It is all too easy for any organisation, including my own, to get stuck in a rut – perhaps especially when things are going well. That is exactly the time to pause, take stock and dare to dream “What if….?”