Facing Up To Uncertainty

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The Approach

The organisation’s total set of activities were broken down into direct project work, and central overheads, some of which were fixed and some of which varied with the scale of particular activities. All possible sources of funding were identified; some ‘restricted’ associated with particular projects, and some ‘unrestricted’.

The spreadsheet  was set up so that users could ask the questions ‘what if’: what if certain sources of funding materialised, what if certain projects were cut, what if salaries were increased, what if staff numbers were changed…  with the answers in terms of: the overall surplus/deficit; the amount of additional funding needed  to break even; the number of clients helped and the overall contribution to the organisation’s objectives.

This was then used in a real-time session with Trustees and Director, giving them insight into the relationship between cost and income, and allowing them to test different management approaches.

The Client

A medium-sized charity supporting women affected by domestic violence.

The Client's Problem

All the main funding sources were due to terminate within the next six months, and funder decisions on new or replacement sources would not be made until the last minute.

The Solution

  • A spreadsheet model to support ‘what if’ analysis of different combinations of income and projects
  • A facilitated workshop to help Director and Trustees to explore different futures
  • Identification of priority actions and contingency plans

The Benefits

  • By being able to see clearly the combined consequences of different sets of events, the Trustees and Director could think realistically about how they could respond or prepare for them
  • This enabled them to take difficult decisions about timing of service closure, to prioritise fundraising and to lay contingency plans
  • This in turn enabled them to survive and continue to provide their core service in the face of a bleak and uncertain funding environment