Eight ideas to improve charity leadership

The King’s Fund has produced a report on some of the most common and pressing challenges that charities and their leaders face.

Based on its work on the GSK Impact Awards over the last 20 years, it has produced a paper to share some of the knowledge and feedback it has gained over the years. Its top tips are:

1. Take time to reflect and learn: a necessity not a luxury Leaders need time to reflect on the organisation’s work, to examine their leadership styles, to learn new ways of working, and to receive support. In such a challenging environment for charities, it’s more important than ever to not see this as a luxury. 
2. Build strong relationships with your board Analyse the relationships between you and your board; make sure your organisation examines board skills and leadership and has a critical eye on trustee roles. Surfacing these issues are the first steps towards making positive change. 
3. Your trustees' report should offer a full picture The trustees’ report should not just be left to the finance manager and treasurer; it is worth investing time and effort in producing a full and accurate reflection of your organisation.
 4. Present and analyse your data carefully Invest time in pulling your data together, being clear on the difference between your activities and your impact and in articulating your value. Provide a good narrative, including how you are responding to the findings, that will make sense to those outside your organisation. 
5. Weigh up the opportunities and risks of partnerships Carefully weigh up the opportunities and risks of partnership work – both of taking part and of not taking part, there are pros and cons for each. Small organisations can easily be sidelined in partnership working, so be assertive when negotiating terms and articulating the distinctive value you bring, and make sure you are clear on areas such as budgets, quality, responsibility and risk.
 6. Manage capacity and demand to ensure sustainability Give yourself time to ‘think outside the box’ and be entrepreneurial; face up to tough decisions and change and make sure you keep abreast of new opportunities. Look after yourself and your staff to minimise stress, and don’t be afraid of saying no to new services, particularly if you can’t afford to run them.
 7. Ask if you don't know the answer Don’t be afraid to get help if you need it – it will reduce the pressures of leadership but could also be an organisational risk if you don’t.
 8. Don't bury your head in the sand if the money is running out You will have a better chance of solving any funding problems if you predict them well in advance and explore your options carefully. Keep trying to diversify income – difficult but important, and tell your funders as early as possible if you think you will have a problem; they may be able to renegotiate with you or reschedule payments to help see you through. 

The full report can be found here.

The GSK IMPACT Awards, funded by GSK, provide core funding and leadership programmes for charity leaders. They are aimed at charities working in health and care with income of less than £2.5m.

More information on the awards can be seen here.