A strategy for ACT Alliance

Today I’ve just finalized the second draft of the global strategy for sharing with the Governing Board ahead of their meeting next month.  This has been the completion of yet another step in ACT’s strategy revision process and reflects the input received from members, forums, advisory structures and partners gathered over the past months.  It’s a key milestone and I’m excited about our direction.

The aim of the strategy revision process was to start a conversation across the Alliance regarding where we are after eight and a half years in our present format, what we’ve achieved together, what has changed in the world around us, and how our work has enabled those we seek to assist to realise their hopes and ambitions for the good of the communities and nations where they live.  What is shared with the Governing Board is a reflection of these discussions and builds on our current 2015-18 Strategy Full Life and Dignity for All.  What we’ve achieved to date provides the building blocks for our future.

So how is it different?

As an alliance, we’ve recognised that if we are to increase our impact we need to align to Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.  It takes time to realise the ambitions we hope to achieve and in light of that reality we’ve increased the strategic time period from 4 to 8 years.  The new strategy, Hope in Action – putting people first, runs from 2019 until 2026.  This enables us to take a longer-term view and recognises that sustainable change takes time.

That said, experience has taught us that the environment in which we work changes rapidly – think shrinking space of civil society – so we need to be able to respond quickly and effectively to critical issues when we need to.  The new strategy enables us to do that and we will use the 2022 General Assembly as an opportunity to reflect on impact achieved and make any mid-term adjustments in light of new realities.

Our move towards an integrated approach to humanitarian, development and advocacy work reflects the reality that these areas are inter-related.  Given that, we’ve tried to articulate this in our approach and result areas for ACT’s five programmatic priorities, namely: Climate Justice, Gender Justice, Peace and Human Security, Migration and Displacement, and Emergency Preparedness and Humanitarian Response.

And there’s much more! Like the fact that, as with faith, gender equality is a key issue that we want to respond to as an alliance; that ACT forums will play a key role as central implementing structures; that we hope to see a youth movement develop as they respond – and lead us – in matters that resonate for them; that we want to be more innovative; that we know our impact will be increased through building on existing and developing new external partnerships that are aligned with our approaches and priorities.

Across the globe, substantial progress has been made in addressing issues of poverty and injustice in recent years, yet substantial challenges remain and are growing in many key areas.  ACT’s message of hope is needed now more than ever – and this provides us with both a challenge and an opportunity.

The opportunity to respond and bring hope to today’s world is both immense – and during the strategy revision process what is clear is that as an alliance we want to step up.  We are clear that we recognise ACT as a Christian, church-based alliance and as such we have a clear view of how we approach our work in justice, aid and development, and demonstrate Hope in Action.

So, the challenge… are we serious? Having chosen this strategic direction, are we really committed to working together as Action by Churches Together to achieve our goals?  The external challenges facing individual members of ACT Alliance are real and should not be ignored.  However, there are two responses to this reality.  The first is for members to ‘circle the wagons’ and concentrate on advancing their own interests – the ‘America First’ approach if you will.  The second, and frankly much harder response, acknowledges the reality of individual challenges facing organisations but realises that greater impact can be achieved by working together and leveraging our collective impact – and that’s what ACT is about.  A stronger, more robust Alliance with members working and sharing together. Sharing the load increases the reach and impact of each member – and critically increases our collective impact for those we seek to serve.

Who is ACT Alliance?  We are – all of us as members coming together because this is an imperative and a key expression of Christian faith in action – and we do so because we know that with hard work we can achieve far more by working together. The question facing each of us is, are we up for it?  If so ACT Alliance can contribute to, and be a profound demonstration of, Hope in Action – putting people first.