A Christmas message from our MD, Emma Willder.

How is it December already?

I don’t know about you, but the last year seems to have gone by in a complete whirl. It’s tradition that I give a little Christmas message, so, what do I want to say this year?

A lot of people talk about how things are tough and they’re still tough, there’s no denying that. A lot of small charities are not in existence anymore. A lot are considering their future and that’s hard. That’s hard for the people who work for those charities. It’s hard for the trustees of those charities and at the end of the day, it’s going to be really hard for the beneficiaries of those charities.

Closing a charity is a tough decision for any trustee board to make, realising that they can’t fulfil their purpose because they’ve not got enough funding coming in.

What can we do about this?

First of all, I’ve always been a big advocate of collaboration. There are a lot of charities out there and lots of them do very similar things. So, rather than competing for funding, they could work together.

Controversial, I know. But working together could help; building those new connections, those new networks and finding different ways to help your beneficiaries.

We’re all there to serve a higher purpose that’s more than the organisation we’re in itself. We’re there to serve our beneficiaries and surely our beneficiaries deserve to be helped, not just by ourselves, but by other charities that can help them as well.

What else can you do?

Talk to the people in your organisation and see if they’ve got any ideas. Some of the people with the best ideas are the people who are doing the work day-to-day.

Look at things like systems and processes and ask yourself:

  • Can we do this better?
  • Could we do this differently?
  • Could we make use of technology?
  • Could we outsource areas that are not, particularly, our core purpose?

Take a look at what you are doing and whether or not it aligns with your charitable purpose. Have you drifted into doing something because you need the funding that’s not directly linked to your purpose? Do they fulfil what you’ve set out to accomplish?

These are all areas to review going into the new year.

Is that where you want to be as a charity or do you need to find different ways of delivering your service?

Then, there’s funding.

Charities don’t run off goodwill. As I always say, nobody works in the charity sector for the money, but the people working in the charity sector do need money.

Those positions, like all the back office positions, still need funding. You’ve got a chief executive, their salary still needs paying. If you’ve got somebody working in finance or somebody working in fundraising or somebody working in admin, their salary still needs paying. It might not be particularly glamorous or the best-paid job, but those roles still need paying.

They play a vital role in supporting the charities. I always say that finance isn’t a means to an end. It’s an enabler for all the other great stuff that a charity does.

To any funders reading, please provide core funding. If you’re not already doing so, it is so, so important. I can’t emphasise that enough. How can charities grow when they’re on restricted funding?

Well, that’s the challenge, isn’t it?

Many charities take a scattered approach, trying to do everything from individual fundraising to community events to corporate giving, to grants and donations, this, that, the other.

Sometimes, if your focus is spread that wide, you don’t achieve what you aimed for. Instead, you need to narrow it down to just a few things and do them well.

As already mentioned, I think collaboration is just the key. If we can all work together, we can make a difference in the lives of our beneficiaries and change society for the better.

I wish you peace and love going into this holiday season. It’s challenging for quite a lot of people, and others absolutely love it, but let’s just practice peace, love, tolerance, and kindness; kindness to others, and kindness to ourselves.


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