This website and the Lasting Difference toolkit give you lots of ideas and practical tools to help you plan for sustainability. These are designed to be used flexibly and we encourage you to find your own ways to do so. But before you dive in it is helpful to pause for a moment to think about who else in your organisation contributes to its sustainability.
Feedback from organisations who have successfully used the Lasting Difference toolkit suggests that, for the tools to have the most impact, it is essential to involve others in this process.
Often one or two people in an organisation will lead and co-ordinate action on sustainability. This focused attention can be useful when things need to be actioned swiftly, for example if a funding deadline is approaching. But when long term sustainability is the goal, taking the time and creating processes to involve and excite others about their contribution to sustainability is vital.
Everyone in an organisation has a contribution to make to sustainability and it is important that board/committee members and the whole staff team are engaged and involved. Harnessing the experience, energy and expertise of your colleagues will greatly increase your sustainability success. It’s particularly important to involve other people when completing the Lasting Difference self-assessment, as no-one will have all the answers, and people will have different viewpoints. But it’s also useful to involve people throughout the implementation process – see below for examples.
To get you started, these are examples of ways organisations have been implementing the Lasting Difference with their people, processes and priorities:
Stepping Stones For Families, Isobel Lawson, Chief Executive
Sustainable change is the heart of Stepping Stones for Families’ work. So when Isobel Lawson came across the Lasting Difference resource at its launch at The Gathering 2016 conference, she felt it really aligned with their organisational ethos.
The Lasting Difference resource always sits on my desk so I can easily refer to it. I really like the simplicity of the resource – it strikes just the right balance between being challenging and thorough, without being overly onerous. There are other self-evaluation resources out there for voluntary sector organisations, but what I like about the Lasting Difference is that it gives you a straightforward and easy to use framework, with the self-assessment section linking directly to the action plans.
The structure encourages you to look at different aspects of sustainability, not just funding, and this is really important. It is also very adaptable and we have used it in different ways right across our whole organisation. It has helped us to see where we are doing well and where we need to put more energy and focus.
After seeing a presentation Graeme delivered at a conference I asked him to facilitate a ‘sustainable governance’ away day for our Board. The session really focussed our discussions and helped us to reflect and challenge assumptions. Graeme’s approach to sustainability really resonated with our Board members. We got a lot out of the session and went on to use what we discussed to underpin the development of our Strategic Plan.
We also recognised that all team members have an important contribution to make to the organisation’s sustainability. So, we used the resource at our team away-day to help us develop sustainability outcomes for the organisation linked to our strategic plan. We have also included the first four ‘P’s from the resource – Participation, Partnership, Pounds & Pence, Profile – into our induction training for all new staff.
Boys’ Brigade, Alan Hunter, Training and Development Officer
Alan Hunter discovered the toolkit at a conference on sustainability organised by the Corra Foundation. It resonated straight away, so he also took part in a subsequent half day workshop.
The Lasting Difference resource is a very interesting tool for sharing and using with colleagues.
I really like how it breaks sustainability down into 8 different elements. This structure makes it feel very manageable to use. The thought provoking questions in each element are very helpful and encourage you to think honestly about your answers.
I also like that this structure encourages you to look across the whole organisation. When I used it with colleagues, it was interesting that people thought about the different elements in different ways. The session only took a couple of hours and it generated lots of ideas. I was surprised by some of our ‘scores’ – the tools helped highlight the areas we were doing well and those which needed more thought and attention.
It can be used in different ways with different groups i.e. with volunteers, or with staff, or with a management team. For example, I used quotes from A Lasting Difference to help focus our discussions at our Office Bearers Conference. We plan to use the toolkit later in the year with our Development Team and our volunteer-led regional committee. There’s also potential to use the action planning section in future to prioritise actions within our new five year Development Plan.