Building organisational capacity and gaining clarity with Leaders of Scale

Sponsor Refugees talked to us about their experience on the Scale Accelerator: Leaders of Scale programme.

Sponsor Refugees is the Citizens UK foundation for Community Sponsorship of refugees. They work with community groups across the UK to welcome and resettle a refugee family to their local neighbourhood. Through the community sponsorship scheme, community groups bring refugee families to safety, helping them navigate local communities and rebuild their lives.

We were thrilled to have Sponsor Refugees take part in our first Scale Accelerator: Leaders of Scale cohort, an intensive training programme equipping social leaders with the skills, mindsets, and knowledge to scale up and reach more people.

We recently had the pleasure of talking to Kimie Frengler, Project Manager at Sponsor Refugees, about their experience on the programme.

We understand who we are as an organisation even better now. We know what we are trying to achieve and who to do it with. This clarity to our mission and end goal is so important in our journey to scale.

Why did you decide to apply to the programme?

Initially we decided to apply as we wanted to scale our organisation, but we weren’t truly clear what this would consist of. Working with Spring Impact gave us the impression that they would demystify the idea of scaling – and they did. It is a concept that we, and many other social sector organisations, are not familiar with. So to work with Spring Impact, who are specialists in this area and have a track record of working with organisations to expand the reach of their solutions, was exciting to us.

What challenges were you facing as an organisation?

Our director came to us with the prospect of achieving funding on the premise that we could start 200 new groups (this was ambitious as we usually start with around 30 a year).

We had to find a way to make this reach possible but knew it was difficult as we were already stretched. So, we had to do it intelligently and find smart ways to increase our capacity. This has been the beginning of a restructuring in how we work and doing so in a more innovative way. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how scaling prospects can lead to funding opportunities.

What were you hoping to get out of the programme?

We wanted to restructure the way we work and learn how to leverage our mother organisation and partner organisations better. This required lots of innovative thinking with Spring Impact’s help to understand how external partners could enable us to massively expand our capacity internally and externally overall. The programme really helped us to do this.

What happened once you were accepted onto the programme? Who were the consultants, what other organisations did you work with?

Sam Edom and Adam Weisz were our consultants throughout the programme. I found that having the same consultants work with us consistently was very helpful. We were also lucky enough to also work with a variety of organisations super useful to collaborate with, especially organisations such as Red Balloon Centres Learner Centres and Little Miracles.

What did the programme mainly consist of and what was the time commitment like? Did you feel it was manageable?

What we really liked about the delivery is how it was mixed up with things such as one-to-one sessions with other organisations, exercises within our own teams, and group discussions. This allowed us to work with a variety of organisations and kept sessions engaging. This, coupled with check-ins with our consultant for feedback, allowed the whole course to run smoothly.

What questions did you work through whilst on the programme?

We discussed topics such as ways to secure funding. One aspect we found most useful was deciding on a scaling model which worked for us and designing this for our organisation.

Furthermore, the work and discussion we did looking at our organisation internally was extremely important. We evaluated our mission and answered hard questions about what we, as an organisation, are trying to achieve. We had to dig deep and understand with clarity what our true mission as an organisation was, this made us think about our organisation like we haven’t done so before. This clarification of what questions we are trying to answer through our work as an organisation have proved to be very helpful to us.

Since completing the programme, what has happened for your organisation?

We now have monthly workshops in place with our mother organisation to discuss issues such as funding, structure, and our model. We take them through the sessions from the programme to get their thoughts on each topic and we feel this has made us a more noticeable part of our organisation.

We are now constantly spotting opportunities and are in contact with our Canadian colleagues who have scaled to understand our potential even further. We feel we have a great vision going forward, along with a better understanding of scaling and the opportunities for us, which we wouldn’t have had without being on the programme.

What questions have you resolved or are on the way to resolving since partaking in the programme?

We were able to become more realistic about the use of our resources as a team of only two. We solved some really big issues by understanding how to externally resource and leverage off our mother organisation which has expanded our capacity massively.

An example is starting our mentoring groups where organisation who have already done sponsorship in the past are now recruiting on our behalf. Another example is our partner organisations are doing our information sessions, which has massively increased our capacity. Overall, it has equipped us with a bigger boldness in how we can collaborate with others to help us increase our impact.

Overall, it has equipped us with a bigger boldness in how we can collaborate with others to help us increase our impact.

What were the top 3 things you got out of the programme?

1. External resourcing: being able to build our capacity by leaning on our mother organisation and sharing work with partners has helped massively. As an organisation, we can allow our impact to be much greater due to this external resourcing.

2. We understand who we are organisation even better now. We know what we are trying to achieve and who to do it with. This clarity to our mission and end goal is so important in our journey to scale.

3. Finally, our model to scale is so important. It is something we were not familiar with before. Developing it through this programme is useful and underpins of lot of what we are now doing.

Our model to scale is so important. It is something we were not familiar with before. Developing it through this programme is useful and underpins a lot of what we are now doing.

Has your perception of scaling impact changed since joining the programme? If so, how?

Personally, I thought of scaling more as ‘expanding and getting bigger as an organisation’. But this programme has made me realise that scale is just as much about restructuring and understanding your organisation better, which will lead to finding an innovative way to support more people with your solution.

What I have really taken from the programme is this insight into how to scale and how to think in an innovative way about the way we do things. I now understand that scaling is a bit of an art, and hopefully what will help us achieve greater impact.

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