7 inspirational stories our world needs more of

by | Mar 8, 2021 | Emma Willder

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While I’m passionate about charities and the important work they do, it’s specifically newly established, small and medium-size charities that I’m keen to support. Often started in response to personal circumstances or a much-needed service within the community, these charities are under the same regulatory pressure as their larger peers, but operate with just a fraction of their resource. 

Through Beyond Profit, my hope is to level the playing field and provide the finance, governance and general support these charities need, so they’re free to continue the amazing work they do on behalf of their beneficiaries.

In this article I wanted to shine a spotlight on a few of my wonderful clients…


Spoons exists to alleviate the stress and isolation that families feel when experiencing neonatal care. The charity’s support services range from outreach sessions with healthcare professionals to sibling support, financial help with transport and accommodation costs, and the provision of facilities, equipment and activities. By supporting the whole family practically and emotionally, it leaves the healthcare professionals free to concentrate on the provision of clinical care to their newborns.

Thankfully, I’ve not been through the experience of needing neonatal care, but as a mother, the charity really pulled on my heart strings. Spoons makes such a difference to the families in their care. I think it’s often the smaller charities, which at a local level, can have a massive impact because they’re not tied up in so much bureaucracy.

I work closely with the charity’s founder, Kirsten, who is quite finance-savvy. Initially I worked with Kirsten on the production of their statutory accounts and I’ve persuaded her to turn the traditional (boring!) facts and figures annual report, into a more appealing marketing document, which ‘sells’ their cause through pictures, case studies and quotes. You can see it on the Charity Commission’s website here

Since then, she has been keen to migrate their finance system to Quickbooks, which makes it much easier for charities to manage their accounts. 

OJ’s Sensory Interaction Trust

OJ’s provides activities for children with autism, learning difficulties and associated disorders. From swimming, to ten pin bowling, the indoor soft play, outdoor activity centre and Saturday Club, the charity encourages everyone to get involved with the fun to create a positive whole family experience.

Named after founder Lisa’s son, Oliver who has autism, the charity really resonates with me because I have relatives in the same situation. Seeing the amazing work the charity does, and how passionate Lisa and her colleagues are about supporting their young people, is really special and I love that Beyond Profit has the opportunity to be involved.

OJ’s came to us via referral when Lisa wasn’t happy with the service provided by her previous accountants. The 2019 annual accounts came in at the 11th hour in a bit of a mess, but we got them sorted and submitted — and the following year was done in record time!

Sapphire Group

Sapphire Group does some incredible work to support young adults, aged between 18 and 35, who have additional needs. The focus is on how to make these individuals feel valued and listened to, so they feel able and empowered to contribute to the wider community.

I love how Sapphire Group is making a genuine difference to these people’s lives. In part it’s practical skills, like cooking and how to take care of themselves. But the thing that really inspires me is how they help build a sense of self and the resilience to help these adults face the challenges that life throws at us all.

I’ve been with Sapphire Group from the beginning, helping them to set us as a ‘community interest company (CIC)’. After much discussion and deliberation, they’ve decided to convert to a charity and have recently submitted their application to the Charity Commission to convert from a CIC. It was important they understand the implications of the change because of the additional governance requirements. But the team — Dee Luczka, Jen McVeigh and  Liz Davies — know it’s the right thing for their organisation and the young people they work with.  

Suit Works

Suit Works is a free service designed to help unemployed people of all ages to succeed at interview. As well as receiving a personal styling session with suitable smart clothing and shoes, the charity also provides help with training on interview technique to give candidates the best chance of success.

Faye and Vanda are fantastic people and the work they do is so important — particularly within the current climate, where the jobs market is getting very competitive. There’s a common theme with all Beyond Profit’s clients, where we need to feel connected to their charity, and for our values to be aligned. Even though we offer help with finance, it’s not about the bottom line for me, it’s about building personal relationships where I enjoy the work so the clients get the best out of me.

I help Suit Works with their finance needs — from book-keeping to management accounts, statutory accounts and payroll. But I think the important value Faye and Vanda get is having me as a sounding board when they’re unsure. I’ve got experience across so many different business functions and I can share that holistic, rounded view of what’s best for their organisation. For example, recently I’ve been helping them with trustee recruitment, offering advice about the policies they need in place, trustee eligibility and sharing documents they may find useful.

Relief in Need Charities

Relief in Need administers three trust funds that provide grants to people, children and organisations. ‘Manchester Relief in Need’ specifically helps adults living within the city, while ‘Children Relief in Need’ focuses on supporting those aged under 25. And the ‘Manchester District Nursing Institution Fund’ helps people living in the City of Manchester, Salford or Trafford who are on low income and are sick, convalescent or disabled.

I am a huge believer in helping people who are less fortunate. I feel like my family and I are quite privileged compared to others in our area, not because of anything we’ve done, but because of where we were born. I feel we all have a responsibility to help where we can, and Relief in Need is really supporting those living in poverty.

Because the charity has no staff, Beyond Profit assists with lots of different areas within the charities. While I’m the main point of contact day-to-day, as well as helping with trustee meetings and governance requirements, a member of my team is administering grant applications, and another doing the book-keeping — it’s a real team effort. And it works because we collectively have the knowledge to help with everything, we have right systems and processes in place and the experience of doing it for our other clients.

Co-operative Heritage Trust

The Co-operative Heritage Trust exists to preserve the movement in the UK, looking after records and objects that tell the story of how it began, the way it grew and its influence on the social, economic and political history of the country. As well as maintaining the archive, it also runs the Rochdale Pioneers Museum, which is free to the general public. 

It’s a charity that’s really important to me for two reasons. Firstly, the values of the co-operative movement are very similar to my own: self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity, as well as the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. With everything that’s happened recently, I think there are lots of people who could get on board with this way of thinking.

And secondly, I was there helping to set up the charity back in 2018, back when I was employed. I’ve supported the charity with its finance from the very beginning when it was an ‘unincorporated charity’, and helped with the transition to ‘charitable incorporated organisation’. When I started Beyond Profit, they asked me to stay, and I now act as their Virtual Finance Director, which covers everything from day-to-day finance, to managing the risk register and finance policies. Acting as the Virtual Finance Director does play to my skills, and having worked with the client for so long, it’s something I feel comfortable doing because I know them intimately and how they think about what’s best for their beneficiaries.

Barking & Dagenham Giving

Barking & Dagenham Giving is the platform for anyone who has a stake in the borough to get involved in addressing local issues. It does this in three ways:

  • Give local people a place to tell their story.
  • Involve local people in decision making.
  • Distribute resources to local causes.

I’m very proud of where I’m from and think that actively creating strong communities is a very good thing for our society. Over the last year there’s been a definite shift nationwide towards more community thinking, and I love how Barking & Dagenham Giving are acting to make their borough a great place to live and work.

One of the main activities we’re working on at the moment is embarking on the budgeting process. We’re doing it using ‘zero-based budgeting’, where we look at assumptions, then at the core costs we know, the grants we know are coming in, then other income — and whether the money is restricted or unrestricted. Considering one thing at a time, we build the budget in a layered approach. In addition, we’re creating a forecast to ensure the charity is sustainable for the long-term. Because we know what the budget/forecast are made up of, it’s very easy to report against and identify areas where the charity could improve.

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