portfolio analysis: ‘taking the myth’

In most charities there’s a mix of genuine wisdom generated through years of fundraising and widely accepted fundraising myths. If unchallenged, phrases such as ‘that doesn’t work for us’, ‘we aren’t allowed to do that’ and ‘our supporters only respond to…’ can do years of damage. These myths can prevent innovation, limit growth and encourage investment in the wrong activity.

I’m in the midst of a full product portfolio analysis with a client at the moment, and its great to see the fundraisers I’m working with challenging some of their own myths. We’re enjoying throwing myths away, as well as confirming some hunches. By applying real rigour and objectivity to how we judge activity, we can shed new light on income streams. New opportunities arise and big strategic decisions can be made on much firmer foundations.

There’re lots of well-used portfolio analysis tools and processes you can follow, and I wouldn’t say that one size fits all. A quick google will give you lots of interesting reading. Much depends on timescales, the complexity of your programme and your specific strategic challenges. I’m using currently a combination of audience gap analysis, an adapted GE Matrix and some competitor mapping and its working out really well. Whatever you do though, try to build in as much evidenced objectivity into your portfolio review as you can, as it this that will enable you to challenge your myths and help to set you on the right path.

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