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Featured: An early Christmas gift for 50 subscribers
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Part Six of our Sustainable Impact series: influencing policy.

Sustain yourself with our gifts

It's been a long, hard, weird year. When Covid came, we stepped up our support to the sector (see below). But we've got two more special gifts to help you through the months ahead...

1. Self-coaching guide

Two years ago, our very own star Jen Curran developed the 'Sun, Moon, Stars' model for coaching and mentoring. Now we've distilled it into an attractive 36 page booklet and we're sending it completely free to the first 50 subscribers who order it. The link is at the foot of this page.
The 150-word handmade guide is printed on lovely coloured card stock. Each copy is unique and numbered.
We got carried away with creative joy in this one (what's new?!), so it's actually two books in one.
Read in one direction - it's a guide to managing time, avoiding burnout and staying focused.
Flip it over and it's a reflective journal, with space for your own ideas, plans and dreams.
Being handmade, it's a fiddly process so there are only 50 copies of this edition! If we get more than 50 orders we'll send you a free copy of 'Exquisite Consequences' instead. And if we get way too many, we'll do another print run!

What else we've been doing during Covid

We've provided 10 additional newsletters since March, featuring: We're returning to a less frantic newsletter schedule now!
We also:
  • Ran more than 10 free workshops and reduced our in-house elearning and workshop fees.
  • Knocked a fiver off Graeme's book to celebrate its 500th sale.
  • Made it free to apply for and use the Lasting Difference Symbol, to help you show others that you're working on survival and sustainability.
But we know that organisations still face challenges. So, we have another gift for you this year...

2. You can book us!

Since August, our diaries have returned to normal and we're back to being fully booked three months in advance. And it's all genuinely exciting stuff. Thank you!
But we still want to be here for everyone who needs us. So between now and Christmas, we've made six Fridays available for you to book a free hour-long one-to-one with Graeme on anything sustainability related. Just email Graeme to arrange a time, with a quick outline of what you'd like help with. Slots are super-limited so it's first come, first served, as you'd expect!

Did you know you can also make your diary available for people to book into, e.g. using Doodle's new add-in for Outlook, or the You Can Book Me service?

Sustainable impact

Part 6 of 7: Policy and policy-makers respond to evidence of changing needs

With elections on the horizon, organisations are starting frame their 'asks' and to engage policy makers. This abbreviated article is about how we can all use our learning and evidence to improve policy - and the wider world. It can be viewed in full online.
  • Where did the policies (and funding) you are working to today come from?
  • What do you do with the privileged access to information that you have?
  • Do you focus on equipping the voice to speak – or helping the ears to hear?

Be proactive

There are lots of ways to be proactive about policy, even if you are not directly involved with it – or funded to do it.

Start by scanning the policy environment to identify developments in your field: what strategies exist and what is being talked about as the next big idea? What priorities are emerging, locally or nationally?

You can be proactive in developing policy too, not waiting for others to take the lead. If you wait for other people to develop their strategies before devising your own, you are probably selling your independence and autonomy too cheaply.
Gather evidence and develop your own policy ‘asks’, for example in readiness to inform political manifestos, government consultations, calls for evidence etc.

Understand what you are trying to achieve

It’s really common to see organisations thinking that if they could only influence local or national policy, the world would be a better place. It helps to break this into more manageable steps. This will make your policy engagement more focused but also more measurable. Start by identifying whether you need to focus on advocacy, policy change, or social change?

  • Advocacy change is about increasing awareness, understanding and support of an issue. Indicators could include things like the number and range of politicians attending your events; the number of times your evidence and asks are raised in committees; the extent to which manifestos reflect your messages.
  • Policy change focuses on influencing local or national policies. Indicators could include contributing evidence to formal consultations; sitting on policy working groups and having your messages, evidence and asks included in policies.
  • Social change might rely on advocacy or policy change, but it’s certainly not automatic, as many a frustrated policy maker will tell you! As a long-term, high-level goal, it’s unlikely that you’ll be unable to achieve social change on your own – or measure your contribution to it in any meaningful way.

It’s easy to confuse or conflate these three stages. It’s likely that social change will be the end goal, but you might be more effective if you channel your limited energies into one of the other two changes first.

Use credible evidence, based on experience

Whatever your organisation’s role, you have privileged access to information that no one else has. This can provide valuable evidence for informing policy and ensuring a lasting legacy from your work. But only if you value your consultations and evaluations and use the evidence you gather to influence national and local policies and practices.

Too many organisations treat evidence gathering as a necessary evil. Others see it as a way to empower people, giving a voice to their experience and using it to influence things for the better.

Politicians and civil servants tend to know the familiar problems – they hear about those from every other charity. What they get much less of, and therefore need from you, are answers, ideas, models, evidence, examples and proof: compelling reasons to shift from the comfortably familiar status quo. Doors open when you have positive contributions.

Develop links to policy, directly or indirectly

You might not have direct links to policy (it's much harder in some parts of the UK than others). But you can take part in relevant local and national fora to learn about and influence policy.
You can receive policy updates from membership or intermediary organisations and work with, or through, them to exert an influence you might not be able to have on your own. You can raise your profile so the voices you represent get heard. Or because your capacity and resources are limited, work with partners to raise the profile of to your shared issues/topics/interests.

Show your contribution

Identify which national and local strategies you contribute to. Refer to these in your own strategies. Where you can’t align because policies don’t match your views, work to change them.

It is likely that you are contributing to commissioners’ and policy makers’ agendas, and it is vital that they know that! Would they notice if you weren’t there? What costs do you save them? What could they not achieve without you? Don't leave them wondering.

Well done! You made it this far. Reward yourself with our free self-coaching guide: The Sun, Moon and Stars.

The Sun, Moon, and Stars: Order your free copy here. Pre-Christmas palindromic postage-paid pleasure on us!
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