Business Development

a) Planning, managing and sustaining the business development process

"A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there."
H. Stanley Judd

The key to success for any organisation is to know where it wants to get to, and to understand what is involved in getting there. Growing or diversifying income is not a matter to be taken lightly by any organisation. The challenges and constraints that sit behind the concept of ‘fundraising’ within the charity and third sectors are no different from a private sector organisation preparing to become ‘investment ready’.
Investment readiness or ‘income readiness’ requires detailed consideration of the abilities, structures, culture, tools, competencies and governance of an organisation. It also assumes that the organisation knows what it is trying to achieve and that it has, or will have, the necessary capability to get there and to deliver on its promises. This is especially relevant to organisations operating within the social change and literacy sectors where social return on investment is not always universally understood and can at times be incredibly difficult to measure.

Key Questions

Who? - Who I am (organisational analysis, and external environment)
What? - What I want, or want to solve (decision tree)
Why? - The case for support (evidence)

How & when
1) How do I do it, and when? Delivery Plan
2) How do I resource it, and when? Fundraising Plan
3) How do I know it is achieved, and when? Evaluation Plan

Have a Vision

An organisational ‘vision’ is an aspirational description of what an organisation would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serves as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action.
Organisations that enjoy enduring success have core values and a core purpose that remain fixed while their business strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world. A well-conceived vision consists of two major components: core ideology and envisioned future

Articulate your Mission

A mission statement defines what an organisation is, why it exists, its reason for being. At a minimum, a mission statement should define who your primary customers or beneficiaries are, identify the products and services you produce, and describe the geographical location in which you operate. It should identify how many people will be reached and how that reach will be measured.


Strategy is the overall scope and direction of an organisation and the way in which its various operations work together to achieve particular goals. Strategy is about the ‘how’. Knowing how things are going to be achieved is just as important as knowing what needs to be achieved.

Measure it

Once you know where you want to go and have agreed how you are going to get there, the final essential link in the chain is the development of a way of measuring where you are and how you are doing. Measurement is about maintaining progress and allows adjustments to be made if things are not progressing as well as you had hoped. Measurement can be about numbers, but it can also be about softer things like staff morale, attitudes, customer awareness and brand.

Sustaining the Business Development Process

There will be easy victories, but there will also be times when progress appears distant and unachievable. Strategic planning is not something you do just once every three years and then file away under ‘completed tasks’. Staff will require motivating, external circumstances might change, and internal structures may need adjusting. Stay flexible, stay ‘lean’, but above all remain engaged. Taking your eye off the plan is almost as bad as having no plan at all. Follow a simple but regular process:
• Plan what you are going to do
• Do what you have planned to do
• Monitor how you are doing
• Review and adjust as necessary

Use the ‘Deming Circle’: Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA)
The rest is just business as usual!

b) Managing Change: The impact of new relationships on the organisation

If managing change was easy then an entire industry would not have emerged to help us to deal with it. Make no mistake; new income and new relationships with funders will have an impact on the way in which an organisation is run.
Both donors and funders have expectations and these will need to be managed. Where previously the organisation might have been answerable largely to itself and one or two providers of income, suddenly there are a whole different group of stakeholders, some of whom will expect to have a say on the way in which things are done. This may involve decisions about independence and accountability.

External influences from funders

Be clear about which kinds of influence are acceptable and those that are not. Are the demands and reporting regimes required by external sources of income consistent with the values of the organisation? Refer back to Vision and Mission statements to ensure that you are not being dragged off course by the allure of new money. Develop an ethical policy that allows you to decide relatively quickly whether or not the value of an injection of new funds is beneficial to brand and reputation as well as the ability to deliver to new markets.

Internal attitudes of staff

Just because you know at an executive level that the long-term sustainability of the organisation is reliant upon the availability of a diverse income base does not necessarily mean that all staff will immediately buy-in to the idea. Fundraising and new income generation is a ‘whole organisation’ shift. Staff who have managed to spend many years doing things the way they like can find that their own sense of ‘values’ are extremely challenged. Whilst there is generally no conflict between the concepts of charity or social benefit and the generation of income, for some staff it can feel like the organisation is ‘selling out’. The keys to overcoming this include:
• Communication – make sure that staff understand what is happening and why it is happening. Sell the long-term benefits that will be created for both the organisation and the beneficiaries
• Training – give staff the necessary training to deal with the new ways of working – most people can learn new skills if their attitudes are right
• Values – assure staff that the values of the organisation will remain enshrined in everything that it does
• Champions – identify champions of the new ways of working and give them a voice. It is much easier to convince staff when their own colleagues demonstrate enthusiasm for what is happening.


Competitors (if you have them) will watch with interest because they too will very likely be on the same journey. Teach staff to keep your plans confidential if they are commercially sensitive. The private sector does not have a monopoly on plagiarism and aggressive action. The more successful you are the more likely your competitors will feel that they have to take action against you.


Partnerships can be challenging but they can also increase your capacity and reach to do things sooner rather than later. Partnerships can leverage money to do things now that would only otherwise be possible after months or years of organic growth. Many institutional funders look extremely favourably on good partnership working, because it demonstrates evidence of strategic thinking and a focus on the end result rather than on the organisation.

Understand the 'change management process'

All organisations have to change over time if they are to survive. In the digital age the whole concept of the way in which an organisation delivers is being challenged almost on a daily basis. The impact of this can be unsettling, especially for those who have worked in a particular way for a long time.
People do not generally resist change out of stubbornness, they hold back because they are fearful of going somewhere they have not previously expected to go. It is important to understand how change occurs in organisations and how best to take the staff along with you.
Above all, show leadership and continually reinforce the vision of the better world that you are all aiming for!


Keith Gilbey, Director Business Development at Book Trust, 2012-15