Navigating the rocks and rapids: GFC’s strategic plan for deeper change

By Corey Oser | November 21, 2022 | Africa & The Middle East, Asia, Europe & Eurasia, The Americas | Youth Empowerment

Reinventing the strategic planning process enabled the Global Fund for Children team to gather feedback from peers and partners; reflect on GFC’s role as an instigator of change; and formulate a vision for the future to guide the organization through the next five years – no matter what surprises may be in store.

One of the processes that we facilitate with some of our partners is a “river of life” exercise where people visually depict their organizational journeys. Like many of our partners, if asked to illustrate GFC’s river over the last few years, we might draw jagged rocks or rough waters to represent the uncertainty of the 2020 pandemic year, which coincided with the end of our last strategic plan.

Illustration: Ramya Ramakrishnan

As we neared the end of our plan and considered our direction, we wondered, “Is this the year when we admit the limitations of planning and set out to chart our course more organically?”

We ultimately decided we were not ready to abandon the positive aspects of reflection, scanning the landscape, and listening to our constituents and peers, but we were not going to invest hundreds of hours or thousands of dollars in creating a “perfect” strategy that might quickly be swept away in a tsunami of unexpected change.

Instead, we took advantage of the moment of reckoning that touched most organizations in the social sector to reflect on our river of life over the past five or six years and convene conversations with our partners, Youth Leadership Council members, Board members, and peers to consider how we might continue to be an instigator of change and what shifts we might need to make. We reflected on the feedback partners shared in our second Grantee Perception Survey. We absorbed the messages calling on our sector to be more conscious of power and accountable to movements for justice in critical areas such as gender, race, and climate.

Illustration: Ramya Ramakrishnan

Through the insightful feedback from partners, peers, and our team, we created a five-year strategic vision, which we are proud to share. We see it as both grounded in our journey across the last nearly 30 years and aspirational, reflecting room for us to stretch and grow. We know that we are not navigating the often-stormy waters alone. Our plan considers where we and others can join forces to imagine and surface new possibilities that even the wisest soothsayers may not predict. (And we do have an internal, granular process that looks more like a traditional plan to help our team stay on track with specific goals and activities.)

Here are a few aspects of our strategy that get us fired up:

As we equip ourselves for the rapids and eddies that we will inevitably navigate in the coming five years of our strategic plan, we invite your reactions and ideas to push us closer to our guiding stars as we sail on together.


Header illustration: Ramya Ramakrishnan

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Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.

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