Where next for the Alliance? Our 2017-2021 strategy evaluation is published

Where next for the Alliance? Our 2017-2021 strategy evaluation is published

Towards the end of last year, we commissioned an independent evaluation to assess how well we've done in delivering our strategic objectives agreed back in 2017 We are happy to say that although we still have much to do, it seems we've been moving in the right direction...

The evaluation found that over the 2017-2021 strategy period, the Alliance achieved real improvement and change in the services it offers to members, demonstrating flexibility in responding to changing needs and taking a leadership role in positioning international development at the heart of sustainable development policy.

It said that much of the Alliance’s service activity has successfully focused on building the capacity, transparency and good governance of the sector in Scotland, whilst informing and educating members and external stakeholders on the relevance of international development to current global environmental, equality and human rights priorities.

Out of necessity, much of this focus has been internally facing, equipping the sector to become fit for purpose in the face of an ever-changing operating environment. The future challenge will be to further develop the Alliance’s externally focused activities, alongside direct services to members.

Our four strategic objectives

The evaluation concluded that our strategy successfully delivered two of its four objectives, adapting effectively to a changing political, economic and policy landscape and delivering high quality, personalised services to meet member needs:

  1. To grow our membership base and improve the services we provide to members: this was achieved, supported by both quantitative and qualitative evidence collated for this report.
  2. To better represent the sector on policy and advocacy issues: this was also achieved, evidenced by activities and external stakeholder views.

The second two objectives were partially met:

  1. To improve the perceptions of international development and the profile of the sector in the minds of the public and other key stakeholders across Scotland: There was a wealth of qualitative evidence that indicated significant improvement in key stakeholder perceptions and an enhanced reputation of the Alliance and the wider international development community. However, there is little evidence that public perceptions have been impacted; in addition, it would be problematic to attribute any improvement in public perceptions solely to the work of the Alliance.
  2. To ensure the infrastructure and IT capability are fit for purpose to deliver the plan: whilst IT capability was improved through a new website and members’ portal, and the number of member services delivered online significantly increased, ICT functionality is still impeded by a lack of integration between systems, which would improve the effectiveness and efficiency of operations.

The evaluation found that the reasons for not fully meeting objectives 3 and 4 were a lack of dedicated staff resource to address externally facing communications with the public, together with little resource capacity or missed opportunity to fundamentally address IT functionality issues following the website commissioning at the start of the plan period.

Recommendations

The evaluation recommends review of the following areas:

  • The development of an External Communications Strategy, and consideration of the creation of a role for public engagement and social movement campaigns.
  • A review of Membership Strategy, and a focus on maintaining and developing membership and prioritisation of members’ needs against the new theory of change.
  • More effective mechanisms to facilitate peer to peer learning remotely, including the usage of and value assigned to the current “Alliance Community” by members, and alternatives which, once established, can be peer-led rather than requiring constant officer input.
  • A review of the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework indicators and the usefulness of data and management information collated. Where is impact most effectively evidenced? What do existing reporting requirements demonstrate? and where can reporting be simplified?
  • Further building on civil society organisation (CSO) partnerships and increased collaboration to effectively promote the international development agenda.
  • A review of the existing support offered on fundraising and where, as a membership organisation, the Alliance can most usefully add value in supporting the resilience of the sector.

Read the full evaluation report here.