In November or 2018 I found myself back in Dharamshala, Northern India, to visit the wonderful children and staff of the Tong-Len Charitable Trust.

The mission of Tong-Len is to help poor communities achieve a secure and sustainable future by addressing the root causes of poverty.  They provide a hostel for children from the slum, where they can live safely, and have their physical and emotional needs met.  The Tong-Len school provides education, and a range of community and healthcare projects help the local slum communities.

This charity has no marketing or planning staff, and all resources are poured into helping the poor people in the area.  Tong-Len needed a strategy for the future to help guide decision making and to assist in securing funding.

When time and resources are tight, its essential to focus on the areas that will have the greatest impact:

  • Consider your timeframe – in this case we developed a 3-year strategy to keep it practical and trackable.
  • Ensure the strategy includes actionable short-term areas of focus with clear accountabilities and timescales.
  • Take the time to engage with the customers / clients / service users as well as those who work for the organisation. The insight these people bring is invaluable.  I spent time meeting families in the slums, seeing their situation first hand and speaking to the children and staff at the hostel.  This deepened my understanding of issues the strategy needed to address and also informed the narrative, enhancing the authenticity of the strategy.
  • Ensure there is understanding of the context within which the organisation is operating and the opportunities and threats in the environment.
  • Ensure there is clarity on what has been achieved to date – recognising how far the organisation has come adds to the confidence in determining the next bold steps they can take
  • Clearly outline the resources required to deliver the projects.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate – a strategy is of no value if stakeholders do not understand and endorse it.

The strategy for Tong-Len charitable trust was set out as follows:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Mission and Vision
    • Background and context
    • Mission
    • Vision
    • Desired outcomes
  3. Recent Achievements
  4. Key Projects
    • Context and current situation
    • Staffing and resources
    • 3-year strategy and outcomes
    • 6-month plan
    • Finance and resource implications
  5. Operating model and governance
  6. Financial and resource plan
  7. Summary of 6-month plan
  8. Appendix of useful information, case studies and references

This contract has given me greater purpose and satisfaction than any other work I have done this year. While my time was voluntary, implementation of this strategy will literally save and transform lives – thanks to the work of the incredible team of the Tong-Len Charitable Trust.

To donate to Tong-Len or to sponsor a child please click here.