Prompts to help you reflect on how well you know your clients and what they need, drawing upon the SVA Fundamentals for Impact.
Social-purpose organisations exist for those who benefit from their actions – in most cases people with some form of need. Therefore, these beneficiaries’ needs and interests should be at the centre of every decision that the organisation makes. This is a simple concept, yet a very challenging undertaking in practice; organisations often balance a complex set of stakeholders, including funders, whose interests at times may be different to those of the end beneficiaries.
This can lead the organisation to lose sight of its purpose and so reduce the impact that it could achieve. This ultimately will diminish the trust of those that it exists to support, leading clients to abandon the organisation and seek support elsewhere, or worse, to disengage from the system altogether and risk becoming more entrenched in disadvantage.
How can an organisation make sure that it stays focused on what is most important to its end beneficiaries or clients? What are the warning signs that it’s not achieving this? How can an organisation become more client-centred?
Having worked in the social sector since 2002, SVA recognised the need for a robust, evidence-informed approach to help organisations diagnose its performance beyond a focus on their internal workings. We developed the SVA Fundamentals for Impact to do just that – enable organisations to assess whether they are being effective and how they can do better. Being client-centred is one of the three pillars of the framework.
This article describes what we mean by focusing on clients, and what better practice looks like and will help organisations to reflect on how their organisation is doing in this area.