• governance & strategy

Is the way ahead clear?

Whatever stage an organisation is at in its journey, Action Planning’s deep expertise can help gain clarity over objectives, set out practical plans for their delivery and support leaders as they see the plans through to fruition. 

Governance Review

Achieve alignment in your leadership

Are you all moving as one?

It’s good practice to review the running of any organisation from time to time, whether or not there is deemed to be room for improvement. The 2017 House of Lords Report and advice from the Charity Commission on the new Charity Governance Code contain changes that all charities need to heed. Action Planning is often asked to carry out an objective assessment of all aspects of governance, identify areas of divergence or friction and offer recommendations for positive development.

Our consultants have first-hand experience of not-for-profit governance and can provide the tools to stimulate constructive thinking among trustees and senior management personnel. For example, we can run an introductory session to trigger Board thinking on what good governance looks like, or provide consultancy and facilitation support focused around a specific area of concern, such as skills review and board renewal, delegated powers, committee structure, or how best to provide effective management information to the board.

Typical situations in which we are asked to conduct an independent governance review include:

  • Regular check-up – good practice
  • Problems – eg a breakdown in relationship within or between a board and senior management team
  • Changes – eg the appointment of a new Chair or Chief Executive
  • Technicalities – checking compliance with the latest best practice
  • Relationships – making sure key personnel are working well together

“Action Planning are my first choice for advice on governance issues, always offering insightful and impartial guidance.”

Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive, Compassion in World Farming

Might a governance review be a timely way to increase the effectiveness of your organisation? 

Trustee Training

Develop your knowledge and skills

Do your trustees know what they don’t know?

Board training and development are crucial for organisations to run at maximum efficiency, and yet we recognise that because of tight resources and limited time, cost-effective and efficient training delivery is essential. Our approach is therefore tailored to meet the very specific needs of each of our clients.

Our expert consultants and trainers can provide bespoke training and development for trustees, designed to develop a mindful, skilled and responsive Board that acts as a critical friend, while empowering staff to succeed. We understand the different characteristics, challenges and opportunities that make every Board a unique entity, so we work in partnership with our clients, asking the right questions and providing relevant insights to help them achieve a high-performing Board.

The benefits of our trustee training include:

  • Cost-effective, tailored to suit your organisation
  • Any number of participants
  • Location to suit you and your people
  • We really get to know your organisation so we provide the input you need, rather than bland, off-the-shelf content
  • Our broad skills base means we can address wider issues beyond pure governance, including organisational strategy, fundraising and marketing

“We were impressed by the way that Action Planning got to know our organisation, its people and its aims before they gave advice on our governance. This meant that their guidance and help was tailored and focussed on the key issues. David led our trustees deftly through the areas in which the board could improve and was not afraid to provide challenge during the process. All the board were delighted by the resulting modern governance framework we now have.”

Christopher Munday, Chief Executive, Crossways Community

Would your Board benefit from insightful, informed training and development? 

Strategic Planning and Business Planning

Plot your course

Do all of your team know where you’re going?

Whether an organisation is preparing for launch or is in need of fresh impetus, our strategy development skills will help to establish a robust, future focused and sustainable plan for the organisation as a whole – including and integrating the strategies for marketing and fundraising.

Our consultants are adept at applying their experience to suit the differing cultures and needs of each organisation. Selecting appropriately from a range of proven skills, techniques and analytical tools, they will provide objective support to help clients not only develop an effective strategy but, crucially, also ensure buy-in from everyone within the organisation, from staff to trustees.

Our analytical approach to planning includes:

  • Getting to know you and your team, so we can work collaboratively and effectively in your organisation’s context
  • Research and analysis to help you understand your external environment and stakeholders and identify the key drivers influencing your plans
  • Working with your team to identify strategic objectives, key work streams and targets
  • Facilitating a visioning day to unite your senior team around core aspirations and identify the major objectives
  • Identifying and addressing implications for leadership, marketing, finance and support functions
  • Creating a monitoring and evaluation framework to track the plans

Strategic plan? Business plan? What’s the difference?

There is often confusion over whether a document should be called a Strategic Plan or a Business Plan. In our experience, something called a ‘Strategic Plan’ tends to be more visionary and contain more words, whilst something called a ‘Business Plan’ tends to be more about the nuts and bolts of the operation, and contain more numbers. Actually, no matter what it is called, a Plan needs both parts. A ‘Business Plan’ without vision is boring and probably not aspirational. A ‘Strategic Plan’ that doesn’t address the nuts and bolts of delivery is probably never going to happen!

“We have come back to Action Planning over the last 10 years and also utilised their expertise internationally on a range of projects. I would have no hesitation in recommending them for appropriate work.”

Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director, Aid to the Church in Need


“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

Winston Churchill

Could your organisation benefit from a clear and practical strategic plan?

Awayday Facilitation and Follow-up

Let’s all pull together

Is everyone aligned with the cause?

The all-important relationship between senior management and the Board can benefit hugely from an awayday, planned and run by an objective third party like Action Planning. We specialise in putting together stimulating, task-based awaydays that address each organisation’s specific challenges and yield workable outcomes.

By taking teams out of the normal working environment and freeing them from day-to-day responsibilities, we encourage greater creativity and interaction, sharing of ideas and knowledge, strengthening of relationships and motivation around the cause. Our awaydays are particularly effective for establishing a consensus over fundamental issues, such as vision, mission and strategic objectives.

Let us know what your current stumbling blocks are (or we can help you identify them!) and we will create a programme to address these, with follow-ups to ensure that good ideas are not forgotten and that the agreed outcomes are turned into measurable actions – and then actioned.

Benefits of an Action Planning awayday include:

  • Objective facilitation and gentle challenge
  • Motivate and unite your teams
  • Share knowledge and ideas
  • Establish a clear definition of roles
  • Address specific challenges and issues
  • Import new thinking and information
  • Stimulate new ideas and solutions

“Action Planning facilitated a really energising and action-oriented awayday. Their methods ensured that people from different backgrounds were all engaged before and during the process and also signed up to the action plan for the organisation. All this and fun too – a killer combination!”

Linda Riley, Director, Voluntary Sector Training

Are you seeking to increase your fundraising returns?



Are you ready should the worst happen?

We all hope it never will but there’s a lot that can be done to reduce the impact of a crisis befalling any organisation. Threats such as reputational damage, loss of income and adverse regulatory changes can all be mitigated by having a sound risk management policy in place. For larger charities this is obligatory but we strongly advise even the smallest not-for-profits to do the same.

We can draw on our years of experience in the sector to help organisations identify and assess all their potential risks and put together a clear risk management policy, agreed by the Board and senior management. We can also help with the process of periodic monitoring and reviewing, as well as compiling risk reports.

Action Planning can help you ensure you’re not exposed to risk by:

  • Identifying the risks you face
  • Assessing the scale of those risks
  • Putting together a risk management policy
  • Monitoring and reviewing your risk management
  • Compiling risk reports


“Robin Hamilton has been a huge support in identifying our potential threats at Orca. Whilst we are a small charity, we are still open to a number of risks that could impact our growing reputation. His risk analysis and report made the complex easy to understand and really clarified the small number of key risks that we need to focus on. His support enabled us to understand what steps to take so that our data, operations and staff remain safe.”

Sally Hamilton, Director, Orca

Are you concerned about your organisation’s exposure to risk? 

Action Planning have been immensely helpful in listening, stimulating and advising our trustees which has enabled us to rejuvenate our governance and top level strategy from the benefit of a fresh perspective.

Harry Graham, Mission Without Borders International