Compiling a PESTLE analysis for your org? Here are some questions to help you…

A PESTLE analysis is intended to help you thing about the external forces that might affect your organisation and its work. The acronym can stand for different things depending upon which textbook you read (or blog you visit), but here I’m talking about Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental.


In recent months I’ve been helping two charities with their Business Planning process, and encouraging them to think about PESTLE, alongside SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). Here’s a simple starter resource posing a range of questions that you can consider for your organisation. It is by no means exhaustive, so get in touch if you have your own ideas about what to include. The focus here is very much on smaller scale, local provision of services to tackle poverty and inequality.



  • Currently, austerity policies and benefit sanctions regime will continue to create, sustain and stigmatise poverty. Demand for your services will increase. Do you need to triage assess? Signpost/Refer on?


  • Personal debt is increasing, placing families under strain. Can you support them?
  • Although payday loans and ‘loan sharks’ have fallen off the media agenda, they are still the only real choice for many on low incomes, trapping them in poverty. How can you respond?
  • Zero hour contracts and the emerging ‘gig economy’ may mean that previously-financially stable people unexpectedly need to call on foodbanks and other services. They may not fit within current notions of poverty. Are your staff/volunteers aware?
  • Funding for the sector is competitive, with local government funding very restricted, contract funding very inaccessible for smaller organisations, and charitable grant funding over-subscribed. How can you plan for this?


  • Risk of perpetuating a ‘dependency culture’ among users of foodbanks and other services. How to manage this?
  • Brexit may continue to fuel negative, harmful and potentially dangerous attitudes towards non-British citizens, who may be increasingly turning to charitable services for help. Are your volunteers and staff aware? How might they respond?


  • Social Media makes everyone a potential cheerleader or critic with a mouthpiece. How can they be encouraged to cheer for you? How will you respond to criticism?
  • Cloud-based sharing of work files and resources is revolutionising the workplace, but how secure are your systems? Are staff and volunteers aware of good practice? Is there a policy?
  • Hacking and Malware are the new Wild West. They can render even the most sophisticated IT systems useless. Do you back up data regularly? How ‘risky’ is your IT setup?


  • Reporting of Hate Crimes has increased in the past 12 months. Your beneficiaries may be potential victims. They may be potential perpetrators. Do staff and volunteers know how to respond if they witness (or are a victim) of a hate crime? Do they know how to report it?


  • Do you have an appropriate environmental policy? This may cover use of transport, recycling, energy efficiency. Some funders want to see such a policy being adopted.
  • What is the environmental impact of your work? Are you reducing landfill? Are you increasing it? What can you do about this?

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