The Cranfield Trust has been working with charities for nearly 30 years and is the UK’s leading provider of pro bono management consultancy. Over the years we have worked with thousands of charities, providing strategic management consultancy projects and tailored independent HR advice at no cost. We are able to do this thanks to the generous support of funders and our network of over 1,000 skilled volunteers.
For those of you not familiar with the term Funder Plus, it is simply the support some funders offer, in addition to grants, to help charities in areas like capacity building. This could be through programmes that help develop skills in individuals or that address a particular issue within an organisation. We are finding the charities we work with require this additional support just as much as monetary support. This was confirmed at an event we hosted along with the City of London Corporation’s Charity, City Bridge Trust earlier this year.
Round table discussions revealed that charity back office functions are under strain: staff are overstretched, and there’s a perception that funders are looking for growth and innovation, and are reluctant to invest in strong internal infrastructure. Many charities are already cutting their back office resources, weakening the core of their organisations.
With so many challenges, charities are seeking external support. In a survey conducted after our Funder Plus event, 82% of our respondents had used external support in the last 12 months, with a surprising 52% having used support more than once in a year. Although financial sustainability was the top challenge for organisations, most do not use external support to raise funds or generate income.
When asked about the drivers to bring in external support, we had anticipated that most organisations would want additional resources – more time and capacity. In fact, more charities were focused on bringing skills into their organisations, 88% said that they had a task or activity to carry out but didn’t have the skills to do it, compared with 67% who didn’t have time.
At the Cranfield Trust we look on our partnerships with charities as a journey we travel together. Whether a charity is just starting out, looking to take their next steps or building on previous success, we are there every step of the way, sharing business expertise and being a critical friend.
If you’d like to read the full report on Funder Plus, you can download a copy from our website: www.cranfieldtrust.org/funderplus