Alex reflects on our theory of change
It’s December here in Rotterdam and winter has brought with it beautiful snowfall, a phenomenon which has been conspicuously absent in the winters of late. Sitting inside watching the snowflakes descend upon the suburban surroundings brought back the familiar feeling of coziness and plunged my mind into deep thought. It was most certainly the perfect moment for reflection.
Thinking back on 2017 there is much to be proud about regarding Fair Fight. We brought sensei Gerald Muusha to the Netherlands for cross-training and sharing of his story with our community of volunteers, supporters and partners. We undertook our second trip to Varanasi, India to further the project there with the invaluable support of Heifara. We bought a tatami for the girls at Nagle House in Marondera and successfully had it delivered and installed at the school improving the facilities. The Fair Fight board expanded with a new outreach officer. The Tang Soo Do (TSD) European championships saw a very successful fundraiser for Fair Fight. All this in 2017! Indeed we have come a long way from the Fair Fight we established back in 2015. But with rapid growth and many new developments it was time take a look in the mirror and check to see whether we were still on course to fulfilling our original mission. Were we staying true to the values and goals we had set out for ourselves almost three years ago?
The truth is that Fair Fight has been extremely busy building new projects and furthering our existing efforts on the ground in India and Zimbabwe that we have had little time to reflect upon our core vision. Something which brought about a subconscious unease throughout the organization, ever present at board meetings, but never really spoken out loud. We knew we had to go back to the drawing board, to the core fundament of the charity, to be in a more powerful position from which to build further. So it was then when we started to ask ourselves, “What exactly do we mean by empowerment? What were the fundamental paradigms which we wanted to influence through our work?”
Answers didn’t come easily and after numerous meetings which circled back to the same difficulties we decided to get some external help. We were fortunate enough to come into contact with Nienke Keen, a Theory of Change expert and researcher. Nienke offered to help us apply the Theory of Change methodology to Fair Fight so that we could gain clarity on what exactly we wanted to achieve.
The “Theory of Change” methodology can be considered like a 'business case' for not-for-profit organisations. It essentially helps organisations to make sense of their higher level goals and offers practical insights to these organisations on how to generate change which is explicit, actionable, and measurable. After three successive workshops in which Nienke helped us develop our own Theory of Change we are highly satisfied with the result (see image below).
However the journey has been just as invaluable as the end result. We were also very much confronted during the different phases in developing our Theory of Change: we realized that we did not always have a good fit between our actions and ambitions; we found disparities between what we thought we were doing and what we actually should have been doing; we identified relevant stakeholder groups that we had previously neglected. In short, the structured approach to thinking about Fair Fight and our activities helped us to get a different perspective on our purpose, our WHY, we can now build a stronger and more focussed strategy for Fair Fight.
Are you curious about the Theory of Change methodology and what impact it could have for your organization? Check out Nienke's website Keen for Impact to learn more and book your own personal workshop today.
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