Voice and influence – a post for #smallcharityweek Policy Day

Ten years ago my work in Dudley was focused on ways that community groups, faith groups and voluntary organisations could influence decision making about local services in the borough. There were all sorts of partnerships of leaders, policy makers and managers creating strategies and plans in relation to regeneration, learning, health, community safety, housing, the environment, heritage and more. It was very difficult to know if our sector was exercising any influence on decisions and plans being made, and what impact we were having.

So we embarked on what was to become a seven year journey with community development specialists changes, contributing to the development and local use of an influence framework for groups and networks. It is called Voice, and it can help small charities to think through ways to increase their influence. (The Voice framework led to three other influence frameworks being developed – see changes website for more about these.)

Ways we influence: whispering, shouting, negotiating, taking action, being part of a bigger network, flirting, shamingWe had lots and lots of conversations with people involved in networks in Dudley borough comprising community groups, small charities and faith groups, as well as larger charities.

We discovered a number of ways that they influence.

  • Which of these have you tried?
  • Can you see advantages and disadvantages depending on your overall goal?
  • What works for your group or organisation?

By working with people from a range local groups and organisations in Dudley borough, we also figured out a useful way for people to what their capacity to influence is, and what steps they can take to increase it. These steps form a crucial part of the Voice framework.

Voice: steps to influenceDo these steps reflect things you have thought about?

Do any of them give you ideas about new things you could try?

Have a go!

There is much more to the Voice framework, and there are a number of people who work and volunteer in Dudley borough who have been trained to work with groups using Voice. I use thinking and activities from Voice in my work all the time because it is so useful. If you would like Dudley CVS to run sessions on influence using Voice please do get in touch.

Further reading

You can read more about Voice in this Handy Guide.
There was a lovely short article about influence and Voice published in NCVO’s magazine.
For anyone with a taste for something more academic, there was an essay on Voice published in the Community Development Journal in 2008.

 

 

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