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Organisational Resilience

As part of our work to help small charities survive and thrive, we think one of the best ways to do this is to help them become more resilient. This will help them both plan for change but also be better equipped to deal with crises that might arise as we have already seen with austerity, Brexit and the coronavirus.

We have launched a practical programme to review what it means to be a resilient small charity and how they can best be prepared for the future. This builds on our existing work to support developmental and capacity building within and navigate the many challenges small organisations face.


We recognise that a lot of work has taken place around organisational resilience, including our own Enhance offers (which help support and build the capacity of small charities). The intention of this programme is not to reinvent the wheel and to start afresh, but to draw together best practice activities and insights from Foundation colleagues, other external stakeholders and charities themselves to rediscover and redefine what makes a resilient organisation and how to get there.


The focus of this programme is organisational resilience, recognising that often change is required at organisational level before resilience measures can be implemented or even engaged with. We found that three key aspects underpin resilience for small charities and these are the need to focus on their people, their money and their purpose.


Often however, small charities are expected to build resilience on their own. This fails to recognise that in practice, small charities are part of a wider, complex system. Therefore, in this work we have looked at how charities can develop greater organisational resilience within their organisation, with their peers and as part of a wider, external approach with all public and voluntary sector organisations that they work with locally.


Programme Objectives

We are hoping that this programme will enable small charities to achieve organisational resilience, by that we mean the ability to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions in order to survive and prosper.


We’ve developed this programme with the help of Liz Pepler, Tom Watson, Richard Frost and charities.


This programme is structured to support organisations, peers and wider eco systems to look at their organisation(s) and identify ways of becoming more resilient. It guides you to think about what you do, how you do it, and why you do those things and what impact these decisions have on resilience.


The programme is broken down into a number of phases outlined below. Of these we are now progressing onto the final phase of this work.


Discover and Define

By the end of this phase we will have identified and clearly defined a range of practical activities and interventions. They can be used for small-scale testing with a range of charities and external stakeholders selected from the six areas where we are working as part of its People and Communities work.


Design and Test

On completion of this element of the work, we will have designed activity plans and programme content which will have been tested with an appropriate delivery approach. From the test results we will create a package of practical interventions ready for roll-out as a long-term Organisational Resilience Programme.



Subject to feedback on the above work, we will move to rolling this work out to a number of small charities in the six communities where we are doing more focused work. Successful implementation of this programme will directly result in an increased number of charities displaying the characteristics, attitudes, and skills necessary to build long-term resilience. This will be achieved by us providing tailored support to charities on their resilience journey, and by equipping us to use our learning and position in the sector to influence the behaviour of other sector stakeholders. The aim is to nurture an external ecosystem in which impactful charities are able to not just survive but sustain and thrive.