The magic triangle of charity

Many people ask me, how did you set up the charity? What was the hardest part? And how did you go about it? However, I think the most important question, that is not often asked is how have we continued to ensure East African Playgrounds success. Because setting up East African Playgrounds was a leap of faith, filling in many forms and having a big dream. Growing it and ensuring its long-term success is whole another thing.

Our success lies, in what I call, ‘The magic triangle’

I forget now where I heard this theory, but it is a theory that has stuck with me and one that I constantly compare East African Playgrounds too as we move forward in our journey. The theory states, that for a charity to be successful, it must focus equally on the three corners of the triangle, because without one you will not have the others.

Impact

This is the reason a charity is set up in the first place. This needs to remain your driving force. You need to ensure your practices are sustainable, empowering and work towards your long-term vision.

However, you cannot achieve this all-important impact without financial support.

Finance

You could have the most incredible programme to deliver your impact and a wonderfully dedicated board of trustees, however if you do not have a steady income stream then none of this will be possible. For this reason, Tom and I set up the volunteering project in the founding year of East African Playgrounds. We recognised we could not deliver our dream without a steady income, of which the volunteering programme was able to provide.

Nor can you achieve this without governance and man-power.

Governance

There is only so much one person can achieve before burning out. As Richard Branson says ‘I look after my staff and my staff look after my clients’. Putting your energy’s into ensuring you have a dedicated team of trustees and/or staff/volunteers who feel respected and are committed to the impact you are working towards enables the rest to happen.

What do you think?

Contrary to many people’s belief, I do not spend all my time with a spade and a paint brush constructing playgrounds, because we have much more talented guys who do that. I spend my time working between the magic triangle, ensuring all three corners are working efficiently and are given as much time as each other to grow and develop. Because a successful charity is one with an equilateral triangle not one with a obtuse triangle.

What do you think of this as a theory? Are there any other useful theories that you work by to ensure success of your organisation, if you run one?

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Next blog: Find out about our plans for our 10th birthday … yes you heard it right, in 2 years’ time we will be 10 years old! What!

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