Strategic Planning with Theory of Change

,

How do you improve your ability to help cities collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable actions on climate change?

C40 Cities is a network of the world’s megacities that is committed to addressing the issues arising from climate change.

They work in cities as varied as Lagos and Copenhagen or Shanghai and Chicago. Their Planning and Measurement Team has adopted Theory of Change (ToC) as a key steering instrument to underpin and improve the impact of their work. They recently met with StrategyHouse.dk at a retreat designed to help them learn about ToC, and to plan how they will use it to ensure they get the best out of it.

Purpose

How do you build a common approach to the problem, but tailor the interventions to regional differences? The purpose of C40’s Planning retreat with StrategyHouse.dk was to get a shared framework of understanding, to establish a cross-cultural and cross-regional exchange of experiences and viewpoints on change. The team wanted to produce a Theory of Change (ToC) that could be communicated with, shared between and strengthened by other C40 teams and stakeholders.

Challenges

When you are a truly global organisation, spread across continents and operating at both practice and policy levels (and everything possible in between), getting all the stakeholders involved is part of the challenge. The greatest value of Theory of Change is that it offers is a joint reflection process. Ideally this ensures that all the relevant actors, in a programme, have a part of defining how to achieve their desired outcome(s). C40 Cities opted to gather the core planning team together to work on this and then to disseminate the results of their work to the rest of the organisation, in a new phase.

Method and solutions

A first step was to decide at which level to develop the ToC. This required specification and reflection about what C40 Cities wanted want their ToC for. Will it be used for discussing how change happens? Is it for detailed planning? For C40 Cities, what they needed most was a programme and project-level theory change. This task included working in teams to identifying the key domains of change within the C40 Climate Action Programme, taking into account the contextual and regional differences from Cape Town to Vancouver. From there a more detailed task was undertaken – to brainstorm the main preconditions for change and to sketch out pathways where the flow of change was analysed and described.

Output

Although the main value for the C40 Cities team was the working together, in a participatory process, to develop the theory of change, a physical output was necessary in order to engage other teams in the organisation, who could not be part of the workshop. Together with StrategyHouse.dk, the team co-developed pathways and theory of change diagrams and narratives. These emerged as strong opportunities for further detailed planning and prioritising. All in all, there was not only hot air in Middelfart!

Want to know more?

Contact Morten Ronnenberg mrm@strategyhouse.dk

p.s. – The hard work pays off

Having a theory of change at programme level helps to identify the main axes of intervention, to understand the overall flow of required actions and it provides a strong basis for prioritisation. However, if you want to go all the way, you need to develop detailed theories of change (all the way down to theories of action) at the local level. This helps individual offices and team members assess where the generic assumptions are wrong, which calls for a different approach. Most often, when something goes wrong, the fault lies in the details and in our assumptions. Testing these, all the way down to what you plan to do tomorrow is hard work – but it pays off.

It’s All About Change

,

More and more organizations turn to Outcome Harvesting to assess and document the results they make. But is Outcome Harvesting that different from previous attempts to understand how and why we contribute to change?

And what happens if one combine Theory of Change for planning with Outcome Harvesting for monitoring and evaluation? This article provides an answer.

Download & read ‘It’s All About Change’

Strategic planning and fundraising for youth

,

The African Youth Panel is a platform of youth leaders from different African countries. It is committed to advancing policy, political and economic actions to reduce youth unemployment and to enhancing governance and participation.

The AYP was initiated by the Danish NGO Forum, to provide input to the Danish Africa Commission (DAC) on what youth can do in Africa’s development as well in what development partners should do to ensure that tangible results are achieved with their support.

In its first years, the AYP achieved some remarkable breakthroughs and managed to build a strong political network.

Purpose of the assignment

StrategyHouse.dk was engaged to support the network with a strategy and fundraising development process that could assist the network to becomw financially and organisationally sustainable. The AYP had already received substantial start-up funding from Danida, but needed to diversify its funding and move from incubation to a mature stage.

Challenges

One of the major challenges for the AYP was the lack of paid staff and a secretariat, to ensure consistency in the work flow, constant delivery and implementation of the plans. The AYP’s structure comprises a panel of 60 young people in over 23 African countries. A Steering Committee is the governance arm of the AYP with representatives from all sub-regions of Africa. Given this set-up, an additional challenge were  how to enable the network to meet (very costly) and how to facilitate coordination across the continent (very time consuming), in order to ensure that the AYP could succeed in its lobbying ambitions.

Solutions

StrategyHouse worked with the AYP during training and planning sessions to solidify its strategic planning. This included a review of the ‘2015-2018 Strategic Plan’ to ensure the right balance between objectives, campaign activities and resources. It also included a classic fundraising training session to enable participants to pitch their cases andbe aware of the key steps and elements in professional fundraising. A theory of change training and planning workshop ensured a solid analysis was made in order to be able to establish a shared understanding of what activities would lead to the goals and  why. This provided the basis for a prioritized planning of campaigning and fundraising activities.

Want to know more?

Contact Morten Ronnenberg mrm@strategyhouse.dk

Programme Management Support

Strategy House.dk places great importance on maintaining close partnerships with our clients, consultancy partners and staff.
We help programme and project management by:

  • Investigation – we question established concepts and address them through constructive dialogue, to further develop practices in order to achieve optimal results.

Our expertise covers the whole programme/project cycle, including:

  • Identification and preparation – formulation, implementation, preparation of Terms of Reference (services) and technical annexes (works, supplies) and evaluation of offers (procurement)
  • Evaluation of grant proposals, monitoring, public financial management, legislation, regulations and law enforcement, approximation of legislation, institutional building, training and research, supporting reporting to donors, financial or contractual audit of the programme/project, technical advice and awareness-raising.

Participatory Budgeting

StrategyHouse.dk works with public sector institutions and CSOs to design and implement participatory budgeting processes. We support you throughout the entire process; from design through mobilisation to implementation and evaluation.

Our consultants:

  • help you introduce the concept(s) to your constituency, board or management
  • provide documentation and reasoning which shows how a process/concept works, why it works and where it works.
  • ensure that the process is not hijacked or lost, but that it follows the overall plan we design together with you and the local community.
  • shadow and support the involved steps, at close range, to keep you informed about progress as well as any challenges and how to overcome them.
  • establish a participatory structure that is truly owned by the local community – or even help establish a community where there is none

Fundraising Strategy and Support

The future of your organisation depends on your having a sustainable strategy for raising the necessary human and financial resources. StrategyHouse.dk cannot do magic and create funds out of the blue, but we can help you reach a situation where your chances of successful fundraising have improved (a lot).

We can help you:

  • put together a sustainable fundraising strategy, based on your programme’s added value, and a strong diversification of incomes, all of which must be tailored to your needs and context
  • design campaigns that attract donors and plan your efforts to increase donor retention
  • plan, implement and manage fundraising initiatives, which raise funds and strengthen your
    organisation for the future
  • provide peer-to-peer training in fundraising techniques and help you write and finalise your next project proposal

If you are a small or medium-sized NGO, in a challenging environment, you may find that many fundraising books, tools and tips are unsuitable to your organisation. We are specialised in working with CSOs in a developmental context and know how to offer suggestions that are realistic and do-able, as well as being adapted to the circumstances and funding conditions within a developmental context.

Cases

Strategic Planning with Theory of Change

,

How do you improve your ability to help cities collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable actions on climate change? C40 Cities is a network of the world’s megacities that is committed to addressing the issues arising from climate change. They work in cities as varied as Lagos and Copenhagen or Shanghai […]

Strategic planning and fundraising for youth

,

The African Youth Panel is a platform of youth leaders from different African countries. It is committed to advancing policy, political and economic actions to reduce youth unemployment and to enhancing governance and participation. The AYP was initiated by the Danish NGO Forum, to provide input to the Danish Africa Commission (DAC) on what youth […]

Participatory Planning

Participatory planning, management and decision making are key elements of local-level governance, when local government, communities, and decentralised sector agencies actively engage in the process of local planning and development. StrategyHouse.dk helps you design participatory planning services and processes. We ensure that your strategies and plans can be correctly and effectively implemented, by providing critical […]

Conference and Workshop Design and Facilitation

Would you like to design more interactive and engaging workshops and presentations? Do you have a major conference that needs strong support to prepare, design and implement? StrategyHouse.dk has attended far too many conferences where there was no focus on audience interaction or participants’ learning. We specialise in the facilitation of workshops and conferences which: […]

Process Facilitation

Any project, however good, can fail if the process management is handled badly. The consultants from StrategyHouse.dk have extensive experience in facilitating complex processes to help ensure your project succeeds. We partner with you, so that you can focus on your participation, while we make sure that your process is running smoothly towards the desired […]

Monitoring Support

Have you ever collected large amounts of data that you never needed? Or have you some times realised your monitoring has missed key intermediate outcomes for several years? StrategyHouse.dk help our clients become more efficient in their project and programme monitoring. We support in reviewing and monitoring the programme/project’s progress for project management and accountability […]