Our Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan

Our strategic plan sets out our broad strategic objectives for 2020-2023. It also highlights the assumptions, risks and external circumstances that shape our understanding.

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 “The coming years will be a vital period to save the planet and to achieve sustainable, inclusive human development”.  

 Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General, the United Nations, 2019.

Our Strategic Goals 2020-23

From our strategic planning process three strategic goals for 2020/2023 have been given priority.  They are:

  1. An effective and well supported international development sector in Scotland.

  2. An engaged and supportive Scottish public.

  3. An international development sector that is well connected, listened to and understood by decision makers.


We refer to the international development sector in Scotland as all elements of public life, across institutions, organisations, communities and individuals, who strive in a paid or unpaid capacity, professional or personal, towards creating a fairer world, free from poverty, injustice and environmental threats.


In order to meet our strategic goals we will work towards establishing these pre-conditions:


  1. The sector is well resourced.

  2. The sector is efficient and flexible.

  3. The sector is inclusive, accountable and transparent.

  4. The sector is trusted and public perceptions of international development are positive.

  5. The sector is visible and credible to policy makers and donors.


To establish these pre-conditions, we will carry out activities designed to achieve:


  1. Enhanced skills, knowledge and understanding of best practice across the sector

  2. Information and education on international development that is widely available and accessible

  3. Open and conducive spaces which enable dialogue with decision makers

Risks and Assumptions

Our ability to meet our strategic goals depends to a great extent on the financial, human and knowledge resources we are able to secure. It also depends on the political environment and priority given to international development. The key assumption underpinning our work is that members of the Alliance will continue to value collaboration and connection.

How we will measure success

Annual operational plans and Indicators of achievement will be agreed by the Alliance Board and monitored at each quarterly meeting of the Board.  An independent evaluation will be commissioned in 2023 to reveal the extent to which our Strategic Plan has been successful.


The Alliance was established as the Network of International Development Organisations (NIDOS) in 2000.  A major strategic review was undertaken in 2016 involving consultations with almost all NIDOS members and other major stakeholders.  The principal finding of that review was that organisations and people in Scotland could do significantly more and better, in pursuit of our commonly shared commitments to creating a fairer world, if we changed our organisation’s structure to encourage wider membership. 

At our AGM in 2016, our membership adopted a new strategy to encourage membership from universities, companies, social enterprises, voluntary organisations and individuals, as well as international non-governmental organisations.  New Articles of Association and a name change were agreed at a General Meeting in March 2017 and the Alliance began to roll out its Strategic Plan 2017/2020 from April 2017.  There were four strategic objectives:

(1)    To grow our membership base and improve the services we provide to members

(2)    To improve perceptions of international development and the profile of the sector in the minds of the public and other key stakeholders

(3)    To better represent the sector on policy and advocacy issues

(4)    To ensure the infrastructure and IT capability are fit for purpose

Our strategic plan 2017/2020 was presented to the Scottish Government alongside a three-year funding application.  A generous grant award was made which has helped us meet objectives (1) and (3) and (4) above.  However, the Alliance has not been able to attract the human and financial resource which would allow us to develop any activities around (2) above.

In light of the radical changes agreed as a result of the 2016 strategic planning, the Alliance Board decided not to engage in a root-and-branch review in 2019 but rather seek to consolidate achievements and to review how changing external circumstances should cause us to re-word, re-prioritise and re-present our overarching goals for 2020/2023.

External circumstances

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

As we adopt our new Strategic Plan in 2020 there are only has ten years left before 2030, the date by which all 17 Global Goals and 169 targets beneath them should be met. Our members are working around the world in support of all 17 Goals and the SDGs provide the framework for all our members’ activities and for the Alliance Board and staff.  Achieving the Goals is integral to our vision.

However, the world is way of track, so the urgency and importance of achieving the SDGs couldn’t be greater. With the stakes so high, strong international cooperation is needed now more than ever to ensure that countries have the means to achieve the SDGs.

The climate emergency and environmental breakdown

Fears of environmental threats and a growing determination among people in Scotland and around the world to counter them, have taken on a new prominence and sense of urgency in public awareness.  Tackling the climate emergency and environmental breakdown is integral to our vision.  Climate change adaptation and mitigation are essential elements within international development and challenging global systems and patterns of consumption that feed climate change and biodiversity loss is a key output for an informed, engaged and supportive public.

Public perceptions of international development

National level politics in many parts of the world has shifted towards giving higher priority to national self-interest and less to supporting international development.  Elements of both traditional media and social media have acted to compound negative perceptions of internationalism.  Climate change and conflict are likely to continue to impede development and add to humanitarian needs.  Positive public attitudes to international development play an essential role in winning the political level support vital for effecting change to patterns of inequality within and between nations. 

Strategic Planning 2019 – the process

Every member renewing their membership at the start of 2019/2020 was invited to take part in a consultation on the new strategic plan.

The staff team undertook a thorough review of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and developed a draft Theory of Change.

A survey was circulated in May 2019, inviting input into the strategic planning and comment on the draft Theory of Change.

A strategic planning session was held at our Small Charities Day, on 30 May 2019.

A strategic planning session led by the Board Chair was held on 31 October 2019 to which all members who had offered to contribute where invited.

Responses from the survey, strategic planning events and Board guidance have been used to produce our Strategic Plan 2020/2023 as laid out here.

Activities to achieve the Strategic Plan’s goals will be agreed and monitored by the Alliance Board, on behalf of the membership.

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