Future Charity: Saving the sector that saves lives

the future road of charity

Two years ago, we set out to discover why charities weren’t making enough headway in their ambitious plans to transform. And, as consultancies working with the sector, we wanted to know what we needed to do differently to really make a difference.

We gave ourselves six months to find out why digital transformation wasn’t going much further than a shift to new technologies and re-wrap existing fundraising products, and (we secretly hoped) to find the ground-breaking innovation that would lead to the sector disruption we’ve all been waiting for.

Six months later, we weren’t nearly close to an answer...

When we set out on our journey, Brexit had an end in sight, children weren’t striking for climate change, and the crisis the charity sector was already facing wasn’t talked about that much.

Two years later, everyone that’s close to the sector knows that a bold new approach is required, if it’s to stand up against the rapid pace of technological and societal change. But, to know that isn’t enough. Indeed, to talk about it isn’t enough. To hide behind it definitely isn’t enough.

“We are falling behind and we don’t know what we don’t know.”

But what we have discovered are people who, despite being hampered by cultural inertia and a fear of getting it wrong, are filled with passion and ideas. This piece of work has drawn on these ideas and tried to turn them into practical steps for overcoming the fear, helping organisations build confidence, try new things out, and to look at their existing challenges through a new lens.

Our research has taught us that the change that is required applies to every single one of us that interacts with the sector. It requires us to be brave and take risks. It requires us to think about how we collaborate beyond borders, who we work with and how, and how we measure our impact.

Major cultural shifts are needed within charity organisations, and across the sector as a whole

These won’t just be organisational risks, they will be personal risks, and sometimes it’s going to feel uncomfortable.

But breaking through the barriers is the only way we’re going to have a sustainable, positive impact on humanity. And that’s going to feel incredible.

Take a look at the full report to see how you can be part of the change. 

Download Report Download Report

Listen, Learning, Leading

Bricks and nature

This weekend, I was at Regents University, studying towards an accreditation in transformational coaching.

“What the hell is that?”

In a nutshell: the empowerment of individuals to make the behavioural shifts required to achieve personal goals.

It’s pretty cool. It’s predicated on the humanistic approach; a rebellious innovation born in the 60s, in response to the limitations of good old Freud’s psychoanalytic theory.

It controversially states that ALL people are innately good (which is nice). It suggests we are all continually looking for new ways to grow, to become better, to learn new things, and to experience psychological growth and self-actualization.

A lovely concept, isn’t it? I thought so.

As the engaging and inspiring trainer introduced us to the value of listening, silence and being non-judgemental, my over-active mind wandered. I was curious…

Could we apply these principles to managing change within organisations? Not just to individuals, but to teams? What would happen? Could we look upon teams as things that are eager to learn and grow, preparing to take their final steps to the top of a shared Maslow’s pyramid?

What would that look like? What would it feel like?

In a coaching relationship, the first and foremost actions are building trust and building rapport.

Meanwhile, in many organisations, the induction process for ‘change programme of strategic importance’ goes something like: Toilets. Tea. Fire. And sorry-I’ve-got-to-go-to-a-meeting. Read-this.

Then there are the change communications. A 90s style brief cascaded via management, who, all too often, shrug their shoulders, shirking all responsibility if they’re met with their team’s disapproval. (If they haven’t forgotten to share it altogether that is.) Workshops are often tellshops, whilst anyone that disagrees with the approach/vision/benefits from Above is labelled a ‘Resistor’.

Then. Sometimes. The MAGIC happens! We harness and promote collaboration, we break-down barriers, we decide we believe in and trust our people, we take bold steps, and we create


These hives of activity see people making friends, becoming as ‘one’, and investing hours, days, weeks, months, into fantastic solutions that will make waves! Finally! There’s excitement. Feel that energy!! Huge, shiny smiles all round.

Then, shit happens.

The next day, carrying hints of a hangover, the Director of Transformation announces that the Director of Something Important (mates with the CEO), came up with an ingenious idea the night before. *Takes bite of bacon roll*

And could you all just do that instead, please. Thanks.

No one sees trust as it chases rapport out of the room, but they all feel it leave.

I’ve been perpetrator and victim of the above, many a time. Sometimes at the same time! I’m in no position to judge, accuse, or preach, but I am in a position to notice.

Now, I wonder if there’s an alternative?

What if change leadership was more about empowerment, listening, learning and nurturing, and less about directing, convincing, teaching and (let’s face it) preaching.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

How about if we considered how our own actions feel for others, would we think twice? If we recognised, and continued to remind ourselves, that rapport and trust are the most important (and effective) ingredients for successful change, would we behave differently?

Surely we would.

Charities: How we can overcome fear to make a difference

Future charity

Starts: 6:00pm Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Ends: 8:30pm Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Location: Citi Bank, 33 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, E14 5LB

See map: Google Maps

Register here

Rising inequality, an ageing population and already-happening climate change are combining to create a greater need than ever for the services of charities. However, the ability of the sector to deliver is under question. How can the sector break through the culture of inertia and change for good?

Join leaders from across the charity sector at this thought-provoking event to discuss the findings of the Future Charity research and to explore how each of the themes below will be central to the sectors success.

  • (Re)defining purpose – How can charities revisit their charitable purpose to remain relevant, regain public trust, fend off commercial competitors, and help meet the growing need for the services they provide?
  • Building confidence – A culture of inertia prevails among charity leaders. How can they find the confidence to deliver the bold leadership that’s needed? 
  • Securing the right people – How can culture, leadership, skills and investment be optimised to make the most of the positive opportunities presented 
  • Measuring meaningfully – How can we put data around impact at the heart of decision making and make the experience and behaviours of all audiences as important to us as income?
  • Collaborating actively – How can entire-sector collaboration address the issues of eroding trust, reinvigorate the culture of giving, tackle the failing trustee model and help charities prepare for the challenges that lie ahead? 
  • Looking beyond the sector – How can the specialist skills, capabilities and access of commercial organisations be utilised to help inject new energy into the sector and help it learn how to compete with commercials for the best talent?


Richard Taylor

Richard Taylor

Richard has worked in the charity sector for over 20 years in fundraising, marketing and communication leadership roles. He was a member of the executive board at Cancer Research UK for 12 years and for the past three years at Macmillan Cancer Support. He also served as Chair of the Institute of Fundraising. He is now an executive coach and works with many of the top UK charities to help individuals thrive and excel in their demanding roles.

Richard will be joining us to discuss how, as leaders, we can overcome fear and have the confidence to galvanise our influence

Michael Docherty

Michael Docherty

Michael Docherty is Interim CEO of Air Ambulance Kent, Surrey and Sussex (AAKSS), world leader in pre-hospital emergency medical services.

Previously, he held the role of Trustee and Chair of AAKSS’s Income Generation Committee. Prior to that, Michael as Director of Digital and Supporter Experience at Cancer Research UK, he led digital transformation, driving lasting change through a new operating model, and accelerating digital income growth.

With 20 years’ experience gained across the commercial and charity sectors, Michael was recognised as a key player in the UK digital marketing industry in the 2018 Digital Leaders 100, the 2013 BIMA Digital Hot 100 and the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Drum Digerati.

Claire Rowney

Claire Rowney

Claire is Executive Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications at Macmillan Cancer Support. Previously she has held leadership roles at Save the Children UK and Cancer Research UK.  Claire has managed diverse portfolios including Race for Life and Stand Up To Cancer, marketing transformations, innovation and corporate partnerships.  Claire is a trustee of the Institute of Fundraising and mentors fundraisers in the UK and overseas.

Asif Afridi

Asif Afridi

Asif Afridi is a published researcher promoting equality and human rights. He is Deputy CEO at brap, a national equality and human rights advisory organisation, transforming the way we think and do equality. Asif sat on the Civil Society Futures Inquiry Panel and continues to plays an active role.

Olivia Curno

Olivia Curno

Olivia Curno CEO of Greater London Fund for the Blind and Trustee of UK poverty charity Turn2us. Olivia previously ran fundraising and communications at children’s charity Place2Be and autism charity Autistica. Before joining the charitable sector Olivia was a lecturer in Evolutionary Biology.

Linda McBain

Linda McBain

Linda is Digital Director of Save the Children, leading on the organisation’s digital transformation, to ensure the charity is fit for the future and delivers experiences expected by today’s consumers. With 12 years’ experience as a digital leader in the not-for-profit sector, Linda has developed award winning campaigns such as the ’Most Shocking Second a Day’ video which has had 61 million Youtube views, and Christmas Jumper Day, where Jumper selfies and donations have become a seasonal social media highlight.

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