We use cookies to help us provide you with the best experience, improve and tailor our services, and carry out our marketing activities. For more information, including how to manage your cookie settings, see our privacy notice.


Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

As we prepare to move content to our new website this summer, we're temporarily turning off authentication on and To ensure members can still access everything they need, member content will be available to all users until the end of July. Please note: changes made to your profile won't be reflected in our system.

Community-made content which you can improve Case study from our community

Why do strategic analysis?

This page is free to all
The value and benefits of strategic analysis of the external environment.

Looking at your external environment

Voluntary and community organisations work in a fast-changing environment. Never has this been clearer than it is at present - each day brings another twist and turn in the state of the UK and global economy.

It can often be hard to lift our heads above the parapet, to look outside of our organisation at what is changing out there and to look to the future to consider how it may be different. But organisations that do this are more successful and achieve more for their beneficiaries. This is because strategic analysis helps organisations to be:

  • more sustainable: because they are aware of how the funding environment is changing, and are able to convince funders that they understand how need for their organisation is changing
  • more resilient: because they can anticipate future risks and respond proactively
  • more innovative: because they are aware of cutting edge practice and develop new solutions for new problems
  • stay relevant: because they are aware of how the needs, expectations and preferences of their current and potential beneficiaries are changing

Resources for strategic analysis

For 10 years, NCVO Third Sector Foresight has been helping organisations to understand how the world is changing around them and how to use this knowledge to make better strategic decisions. This is called ‘strategic analysis’.

If you want to look out and look ahead, the best place to start the Third Sector Foresight drivers bank. Here you can browse over a 100 different trends and forces (‘drivers’) that your organisation may want to consider, from public participation in decision making to the credit crunch and from the human rights agenda to access to the internet.

You can save and make notes on your key drivers, discuss your reaction to the drivers with other Foresight members and contribute your own expertise.

If you prefer paper to the web, you can read the pocket guides Future Focus, which cover six of the key drivers in the areas of funding, volunteering, ICT, local democracy and social attitudes. For a good overview, read the annual report Voluntary Sector Strategic Analysis.

Turning understanding into strategic action

Strategic analysis is not just about understanding change, it is about turning this into concrete actions through generating options and choices, making decisions and integrating this into your organisation’s planning process.

I will allow two famous figures to have the final word on the value and benefits of strategic analysis:

"Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him." Dwight D. Eisenhower

"He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator." Francis Bacon

Useful links

  • Looking Out, a practical guide, developed with Cass CCE, provides practical tools, tips and guidance across the entire strategic analysis process.
Page last edited Jul 14, 2015

Help us to improve this page – give us feedback.