Angela Morgan Chief Executive of Includem was a member of the Better By Design panel. In a guest blog she gives her thoughts.
What a great programme !
Firstly in recognising that the current and future environment for charities both demands -and enables – even greater service user focus, with improved and robust underpinning organisational and “business” processes.
Secondly in providing this initial opportunity to smaller organisations, consequently specialised in focus or geography and frequently facing risk in the current climate of market forces ie due to competitive tendering and/or reductions in charitable giving.
The imperative for all of us is to deliver, adapt and improve to meet service user need, develop meaningful methods for evidencing this and be accountable for our use of the resources that are necessary.
One of the key messages I think the Big Lottery Fund has given in developing this innovative programme is their recognition of these challenges that charities face – and the reality of the environment. But – the ultimate focus of the programme is, quite rightly, on improving service impact on the people and communities who need our help and support.
This was evident during the process of interviewing the short listed organisations for Better By Design. My fellow panel members; both members of the Big Lottery Fund Scotland Committee and both with extensive commercial and strategic experience, consistently focused their questions on how the people who need the help that charities can provide had informed and shaped proposals. Not just passive recipients but active players in shaping and securing the services they need for the future.
The interview process itself was a first – both in enabling direct communication between applicant organisations and Committee members and in involving a third sector representative. I hope the experience is one that Big Lottery Fund will feel was useful and positive and, where possible and appropriate, consider repeating. It certainly was valuable from a third sector perspective and personally I both enjoyed and certainly learned from the experience –as well as being mindful of my responsibility in representing the sector.
It was certainly a pleasure and source of pride for me to hear colleagues from my own sector demonstrate their commitment and determination to service redesign and improvement and to feel the genuine care for people and the courage to tackle difficult aspects of organisations in order to better meet needs. I know my fellow panel members were impressed too.
I am looking forward to following the progress of the programme as it develops – not least to drawing on some of the learning to improve what Includem does.