BSC – the answer to the problem of integration

Published by Bernard Ross on

The International Fundraising Congress (IFC) is a great place to gain a whole host of ideas and inspiration. But the problem is how do you integrate these different ideas and create a joined up and understandable strategy?

For many organisations the answer is The Strategy Map and complementary Balanced Scorecard.  (We’ll call them BSC for short after this.) These are a set of contemporary planning tools created by US academics Norton and Kaplan as recently as 1992.

BSCs are now used by almost 50% of all large companies worldwide for strategy and are becoming increasingly popular among NGOs and INGOs for both service and fundraising strategy. Agencies using them for fundraising range from the giant International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to Terre des Hommes in Switzerland to a small Tanzanian health NGO, Maikanda. And this year at IFC there’s a specific session offering you an introduction to them. (The session, on Wednesday 17th October, will be run by Bernard Ross and Mike Johnston. See the IFC programme for details.)

Importantly BSCs are useful not just because they promote strategy integration but also because they express the strategy in a simple-to-understand format. Finally – do I sound like a fan? – they also ensure that a strategy is not just developed – but implemented and tracked. So you should show up to the IFC session if you think your current strategy, while interesting to you and maybe your senior team, is not really getting the readership it needs.

What does one of these mystical BSC beasts look like? The answer is a bit like like the diagram below. (Sorry we can’t show you a real one in this post- people are very precious about keeping their fundraising strategy maps secret. Though we do have permission to show some examples in the session.) But if you want to see a real example relating to a service strategy have a look at the terrific SightSavers example.

Anyway on the rough diagram below you can see the BSC, as the name suggests, looks like a systems diagram or map all contained on one page.

The map consists of a series of objectives- the red boxes above- linked in a logic designed to illustrate how your fundraising will work. You begin with some key high-level fundraising goals- illustrated in blue above- such as ‘increase our income by 25%’ or ‘deliver the $30M campaign.’

To develop the map logic, and we’ll show you how to do this in the workshop, you work down through four perspectives or linked stages. Normally these perspectives are donors, internal processes, learning and growth, and finally resources.

So to work out how you’re going to achieve those high level goals you ask key questions in each perspective on the way down the map – and answer them with the objectives. So here are some questions and examples of objectives for each perspective:

  • Donor perspective: here you answer the question ‘what do we need to deliver for donors to achieve our fundraising goals?’ So for example you might come up with the objective of ‘creating a compelling case.’
  • Internal processes perspective: where your objectives answer the question ‘what internal processes do we need to excel at delivering those results for donors?’ So for example you might come up with the objective of ‘developing a donor journey.’
  • Learning and growth perspective: where the objectives answer the question ’what skills and abilities do our fundraisers need to deliver the donor friendly processes effectively? An objective here might be ‘train all staff in donor care.’
  • Resources perspective: where you identify objectives answering the question ‘what resources do we need in order to provide staff with the infrastructure to learn and grow appropriately?’ So an objective here might be ‘ upgrade the CRM database.’

You’re aiming to populate the map with only 2-4 objectives in each perspective- focusing on the most critical issues. And each objective has to have an owner- so it’s clear who does what. The result is a map- or systems diagram- with maybe 12-15 objectives linked in a logical framework. It’s be simple because it focuses on key ideas and how they’re linked.

Excited by the idea of a one-page plan? Yes? Clear on how to make one of these wonderful things? Maybe not quite? Intrigued by the potential? Possibly?

If you want stay ahead of the competition put the workshop in your calendar now. If you need to know more before committing to the workshop, or even if you’d just like to see some more examples, have a look at this download.

Otherwise looking forward to seeing you in Holland!


This year 101fundraising is the official blog partner of the International Fundraising Congress (IFC), the world’s leading conference on fundraising. This blog post is part of a special IFC Blog Series, where we give IFC speakers a chance to share their wisdom before the conference. Attending crowdbloggers will get a chance to share their views after the conference!

Participating IFC speakers are Bernard Ross, Derek Humphries, Chris Carnie, David Cravinho, Maia Kahlke-Mikkelsen and Lucy Gower!

Bernard Ross

Bernard Ross is a director of =mc, a leading international management consultancy for ethically driven organisations including charities, public bodies and non-profits: www.managenentcentre.co.uk. His new book, Global Fundraising- how the world is changing the rules of philanthropy, was edited with Penny Cagney was published in April by Wiley and is available on Amazon.

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