Free toolkit published to help charities think ‘more systemically’

26 Jan 2024 News

NPC logo

Charities need to better understand the connections between the causes of structural problems, according to a think tank.

New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) has published a systems practice toolkit with eight tools for charities to think more systemically.

The publication states some charities are aiming to solve complex problems with simple solutions. 

It adds: “To be more effective, we need to think and work more systemically. If the goal is to change the system, then systems practice is how we get there.”

NPC has organised the resources using a programme cycle of understand, design, act, and learn.

Some of the tools and frameworks are drawn from the existing systems field and have been adapted or built on for this guide, whilst others have been developed by NPC.

The tools include the iceberg model, systems mapping systems analysis questions, a reflexive practice exercise and more.

Seth Reynolds, principal, systems change, at NPC said:  “The problems charities are trying to solve are often a bewildering mess of interconnected factors – personal, relational, social, political, cultural – that are hard to untangle. This makes it virtually impossible for any single organisation to ‘solve’ a problem. 

“Yet these simple linear interventions based on assumptions of predictable change define much of how our sector operates. We reduce complex problems to simplistic solutions in part because it suits our organisational narrative. This isn’t our fault. It’s how the sector works. 

“We need to think and act more systemically. To do this, we need tools and practices that are better suited to complexity.” 

For more news, interviews, opinion and analysis about charities and the voluntary sector, sign up to receive the free Civil Society daily news bulletin here.


More on