- identifying the problem
The organisation identifies the essential problem it seeks to address, and the specific aspects of the problem it focuses on, and hopes to change
- researching the context and causes
The organisation is aware of the scale of the problem, its consequences, and potentially its costs. It looks to understand the root causes of the problem, and the ways in which these may be interdependent. If there are multiple problems and causes, there is a sense of priority. The organisation situates its own work within this context, including its scope (scale, area covered), and the magnitude of the impact sought.
- response from government and other organisations
The organisation is aware of the government response to the problem, including relevant policy, regulations, initiatives, interventions etc.. The organisation’s activities acknowledge and, where appropriate, engage with local authorities and government. The organisation is also informed of other organisations working with the same problem or similar problems elsewhere, or with the same beneficiaries, with a view to communicating and sharing information, approaches, techniques and results. Where appropriate, partnerships and collaboration are considered, and areas of competition are identified. The organisation can say how its approach is different from that of others, or, if it is scaling up an existing approach, how it is building on proven success.
- broader trends
The organisation is aware of developments within the sector and in relation to the problem, including the possible influence of new technologies and shifts in public interest, demand, funding, and government policy. These inform the organisation’s assessment of upcoming risks and opportunities.
- identifying beneficiaries
The organisation identifies and defines its primary beneficiaries (e.g. by a particular local area; people with particular needs; a conservation area, species or the global climate; other social purpose organisations or industries), and the number of potential beneficiaries within the scope of its activities. This sets out the target population of beneficiaries, and can be used as a future reference point for assessments of scale.
- researching and assessing the needs of beneficiaries
Beneficiary needs are identified, understood, and influence the organisation’s response. A needs assessment may be appropriate (e.g. through surveys, questionnaires, discussions with beneficiary groups), highlighting priority needs, as well as giving voice to the aims and expectations of beneficiaries. In combination, these form a baseline for measuring progress. The appraisal of needs is kept up to date, picking up changes in needs as they occur.
- understanding the context of beneficiaries
In addition to beneficiary needs, the contexts of beneficiaries are understood, with particular attention paid to conditions or circumstances that may influence how services affect beneficiaries, as well as any other services and service providers beneficiaries may be accessing.
- identifying other stakeholders
Stakeholders beyond the primary beneficiaries — i.e. all those who are materially affected by the organisation and its activities (including e.g. staff, the local community, suppliers, shareholders) — are identified and considered for the impact the organisation has upon them (e.g. wider positive impacts and unintended or negative consequences).