HOW CHANGE Q IS SUPPORTING CHARITY CLIENTS THROUGHOUT THE COVID-19 CRISIS

Tina Antonio
Tina Antonio

Tina is founder of Change Q: a specialist charity strategy consultancy. She has over 25 years experience working across the charity sector as a consultant and as Director for several major national and international charities. Winner of a Professional Fundraising Gold Award, she has spoken at national sector conferences, trained on behalf of CAF and is mentor and visiting speaker for the University of Bristol.

The COVID-19 crisis is placing tremendous pressure on all sectors of society and (despite some of the much-publicised over-stocking) it has been heartening to see people’s compassionate response. Even before the crisis the charity sector was already carrying a large share of the social welfare and healthcare support activity, often without sufficient funding. As such, many of our clients in these sectors are now under enormous pressure. Despite this they are showing huge resilience and adaptability as they both rapidly respond to the need and adapt to the delivery context. It is both moving and worrying. I have one CEO client who continues to serve even while she is ill.

With all the government intervention we hope that the bounce-back will be equally rapid but some shifts are of course inevitable. Some of our clients are adjusting their services and delivery systems now to ensure that they can weather the storm. As we enter the recovery stage many will be looking ahead and working out what changes are needed to services, fundraising and partnership-working to increase their sustainability.

Change Q wants to do everything we can to support our charity clients at this time so we will be working in the following way:

Remote Working

We can deliver most elements of our support remotely. We are used to working with individuals and groups in different locations and with the combination of Zoom, conference calling, cloud-based graphics and a little patience we can make just about anything work. It can even be good for making people still feel part of something.

Support services for medium sized charities

As well as our usual accessible strategy packages for service development and fundraising, we will be providing certain charities with special, subsidised crisis management packages.

We will continue to run our research and organisational development work as required by our clients but delivered remotely until conditions return to normal.

We are thinking of you all at this time and standing in admiration of what you all achieve. If you’d like more information on any of the above I can be reached at tina.antonio@changeqconsultancy.com.

Otherwise stay safe.

Change Q is a specialist charity strategy consultancy. Using high impact, practical services, which suit the limited resources and time of the charity sector, we help charity teams to access vital sector information, master charity strategy tools and create shared action plans. We support charities to develop charity service strategy, partnership strategies, fundraising strategy and marketing strategy while providing insight and evaluation services and organisational development support. To find out more about how we could help you get in touch with tina.antonio@changeqconsultancy.com or visit http://www.changeqconsultancy.com

Award winning fundraising consultants launch training and coaching programme to strengthen regional charity fundraising

Tina Antonio
Tina Antonio

Tina is founder of Change Q: one of the not for profit sector’s most experienced strategic leadership and social change consultancies. With over 25 years experience working across the not for profit sector as a consultant, a trainer and as Director for several major national and international charities, she has helped bring about change for some of the most challenging social problems, including domestic violence, disability, poverty, conservation and climate change. She is also an award-winning fundraiser who has raised millions, doubled revenue and reversed £multi-million deficits. She has spoken at national sector conferences, delivers unique training to help strengthen the sector and is mentor and visiting speaker for the University of Bristol Department of Management.

Change Q Training, part of one of the sector’s most experienced fundraising and charity consultancies, have developed the Fundraising Talent Programme to help regional fundraisers to significantly improve their fundraising results.

Results from a recent Change Q survey showed that although 67% of charity staff in regional charities said that demand for services is increasing 50% don’t know if they’ll meet the coming year’s fundraising targets. 71% said they need more fundraising training and 85% said they need more marketing training. Staff also described just how training would have to fit around today’s work life and that more than half would have to fund it themselves.

Practical training and coaching is known to build confidence, raise income and lower staff turnover, yet of the estimated 150,000 fundraising staff in England’s regional charities – those with turnover between £100,000 and £5m – still only a small proportion are given access to quality training and support. A huge proportion of these staff are single-handedly juggling a portfolio of fundraising income streams – often experienced in just one type of fundraising or transferring skills from another sector, yet expected to achieve growth across all of them.

 “The demands upon these fundraisers are immense and the research highlights this,” comments Tina Antonio, Director of Change Q. “Many of these fundraisers are juggling multiple commitments, including family and work, feeling the pressure to grow income or hold it steady, often worried that they lack the skills and knowledge to fully succeed. It was hard to ignore the need for a more practical and immediate fundraising training approach – one which would help fundraisers to quickly gather broadscale fundraising know-how while also helping them to get the fundraising job done. Over a period of 25 years as consultants we’ve facilitated hundreds of charity staff to grow and even double fundraising results, so we knew there was a high need for this support and when we consulted fundraisers they confirmed it –  but not all charities can access consultancy. So the Fundraising Talent Programme uses affordable training and coaching to bring our approach to a much wider field of fundraising staff, particularly for those staff who want to learn effective skills but lack the time for intensive study.”

The Fundraising Talent Programme was designed to respond to the specific needs voiced by fundraising staff in regional charities. Starting in October 2021, it combines online training with expert coaching from award-winning fundraising consultants who’ve raised £millions, doubled revenue income and reversed deficits as large as £9m. Covering the full spectrum of fundraisers’ skills, including strategy, design, marketing and digital communication as well as a choice of income stream specialist topics, it both delivers learning in life-sized bites and offers optional accreditation for learners. By giving learners a choice of topics it also equips them to enhance not duplicate knowledge and to lead teams in a campaign-focused approach to fundraising.

Tina Antonio founded Change Q and has raised millions for a wide range of regional charities and some of the UK’s leading charities, including the MS Society, Christian Aid, Action for ME, RSPCA and TREE AID. She has coached and trained hundreds of charity staff and is an End Point Assessor for the new Fundraiser Apprenticeship. Change Q Training provides training in fundraising, leadership and social change. Change Q is a leading not for profit consultancy providing specialist strategic leadership, fundraising and social change consultancy to charities. To find out more about the Fundraising Talent Programme visit https://www.changeqtraining.com/fundraising-talent-programme-ft01a121-08. To learn more about Change Q Training visit www.changeqtraining.com or email tutor@changeqtraining.com

-ENDS-

For more information contact contact tina.antonio@changeqconsultancy.com or call 0789 9074719

Change Q provides strategic leadership consultancy and training to help not for profit staff achieve and fund social change across all aspects of life – from parenting and health to climate change and conservation. Using high impact, participatory approaches we help not for profit teams to access vital sector information, master charity strategy and design tools, create shared action plans and be better leaders.

WHAT AN EXCITING TIME IT MIGHT BE IF YOU’RE A CHARITY SUPPORTER

Tina Antonio
Tina Antonio

Tina is founder of Change Q: one of the not for profit sector’s most experienced strategic leadership and social change consultancies. With over 25 years experience working across the not for profit sector as a consultant, a trainer and as Director for several major national and international charities, she has helped bring about change for some of the most challenging social problems, including domestic violence, disability, poverty, conservation and climate change. She is also an award-winning fundraiser who has raised millions, doubled revenue and reversed £multi-million deficits. She has spoken at national sector conferences, delivers unique training to help strengthen the sector and is mentor and visiting speaker for the University of Bristol Department of Management.

When a charity or CIC first starts up, its founders are fired up with a vision. The strategy is often clear, direction decisive, determination at its height. Those early investors – the first supporters – are often close enough to this vision to have whole parts of their lives touched by its glow. It’s a position fundraisers strive for, ever after.

The whole charity transaction is an interesting one, unlike any other product or service.

The buyer is not the beneficiary. It’s like buying a Coke and never getting to taste it. Again, simulating this vicarious sensation is bread and butter for fundraisers and we’ve travelled a journey on that mission: from the ’80s of the direct marketing explosion, where donors were often, sadly, treated as Cash Cows, to the point where these supporters have spoken out.

Aided and sometimes exploited by the media, they’ve set their boundaries. For any other product such low customer satisfaction would have caused them to vote with their feet. Charity audiences are different though. They want to support charity work. They didn’t want to be driven away. They’ve clung on, making excuses for their sometimes misguided partners, grumbling but still there. Even despite Covid-19, in the first half of 2020 public giving was still £800m up on the previous year (CAF, 2020). But we shouldn’t forget, they still said ‘enough’.

Over the past 30 years fundraisers have got ever better at trying to understand who they’re talking to. We’ve profiled. We’ve researched. We’ve tried to guess which of our projects and programs would be most appealing to our supporters. We’ve understood for example that a 45 or 50 year old woman may fit the typical donor profile. We assume, and perhaps confirm by research that, as she’s female and of a certain age, she may for instance be interested in children. So, we propose our children based projects.

That’s actually all great.

But perhaps we could do more.

The kickback from a dissatisfied audience is perhaps one of the greatest gifts to fundraisers and to the supporters themselves.

Although we’re trying to go deeper, our approach is still, in relational terms, shallow generalist and assumptive.

We spend months, years perhaps, tinkering with prompts, values and headlines in supporter appeals and digital communications. Yet, perhaps we could radically alter the foundations of our approach.

As well as asking, who are you? And what might interest you? We can ask, what do you really want to achieve?

And how can we work with you in partnership to help you achieve it?

The best fundraisers already do this to a degree for corporates, trying to anticipate corporate aims and desires . Community and events fundraisers who offer fun, community connection and fitness also, to some degree, do this too. We can take it further though. Imagine that 50 year old woman. Let’s call her Lucy.

What if we found out where she is on her understanding of these issues

What if we found out that what she really worries about is the safety of the youngsters in her own neighboring towns and cities – that things like county lines, gangs and knife crime play on her mind. What if we also found out where she is on her understanding of these issues and how they can be tackled? Maybe we discovered that her expectations for change are pessimistic in the extreme, that her own perceptions on life, her expectations, myths and misconceptions are standing in the way of her belief in change.

Then rather than simply talking about the project, the need for funding and the beneficiaries needs – all of which are important of course, we would see her as a beneficiary, too – and focus on her needs as well.

This would radically alter the way we engage with her initially and as the charity programmes progress. It would be a paradigm shift.

We’d find new and different ways to help her to understand the problems faced by youngsters in her area and what goes on in their heads: their hopes and aims; their common ground with her.

We’d share some of the challenges not for profit staff face in helping them.

As she became fascinated by these challenges and how we overcome them maybe she’d see the need for resources and specialist skills and instead of seeing charity waste would see phenomenal value for money. Another paradigm shift.

Likewise, we can find out about the worlds and experiences of Lucy and women like her – her life beyond the charity cause. We can think about how we can offer her real value in her life, in other ways – either directly through the charity’s own assets or through its unique power to leverage the assets of other organizations and companies that can also offer value to Lucy.

Research and data is good but what it boils down to is asking the right research questions, using the right data, interpreting it and having the creative talents to design a product or service that the supporter would truly value – to motivate not manipulate.

To that end, it’s also not helpful to silo off fundraising from product development or trading. There’s actually no reason to do so and for today’s supporter, a blend is often more appropriate.

So perhaps the boundary Stop sign which supporters held up to fundraisers is a good thing. Potentially, as several have already argued, the most committed remain, but in an environment where demand for services is rising we can’t rely on the few. We have to find ways to engage those on the edges of giving too. Critically, this is an opportunity to understand potential audiences and to design services and products which engage, thrill and therefore retain support, ultimately lifting income for charities and supporting not just their need to deliver but also their need to innovate. So yes, this is potentially an extraordinary exciting time for supporters.

This is potentially the time when those who are the interface between the twin beneficiaries of charities – the users of services and the buyers of services – help the latter to live their aims, to solve the problems they care about and to purchase value for other areas of their personal life.

Change Q provides strategic leadership consultancy and training to help not for profit staff achieve and fund social change across all aspects of life – from parenting and health to climate change and conservation. Using high impact, participatory approaches we help not for profit teams to access vital sector information, master charity strategy and design tools, create shared action plans and be better leaders. To find out more about how we could help you, get in touch with tina.antonio@changeqconsultancy.com, visit http://www.changeqconsultancy.com or follow us on Linked In @ Change Q and @ Change Q Training.

COVID-19 Funding For Charities

Tina Antonio
Tina Antonio

Tina is Strategic Leadership Consultant at Change Q: specialist charity strategy consultancy. She has over 25 years experience working across the charity sector as a consultant and as Director for several major national and international charities. Winner of a Professional Fundraising Gold Award, she has spoken at national sector conferences, trained for CAF and is mentor and visiting speaker for the University of Bristol. She focuses upon helping medium sized and smaller charities to improve sustainability and impact through strategic planning of services and income streams combined with organisational development support.

Many charities out there could benefit from additional funding right now – whether they are building capacity because they are working on the front-line with the most vulnerable; developing new virtual support systems or because typical income streams such as community fundraising have been hit. These are a few of the recently announced funds (click on the name to find out more):

The National Emergencies Trust

The NET have launched an appeal to raise funds for local charities and grassroots organisations that have been impacted by Coronavirus. Apply via your local community foundation which you can find here https://www.ukcommunityfoundations.org/our-network.

CAF Coronovirus Emergency Fund

£5m is available for local charities in grants of up to £10,000. You can apply for core costs

John Lewis Partnership Community Support Fund

A newly launched £1m support fund. Money will be distributed according to the wishes of Waitrose shops so see the Waitrose website

National Lottery Community Fund

All decisions over the next 6 months will be devoted to COVID-19. An anticipated £300m will be available.

Leatherseller’s Community Charitable Fund

This livery company is fast-tracking grants of £3,000. Homelessness and domestic violence are particular interests.

Martin Lewis’ Charitable Fund

Applications closed on 25th March but keep an eye on his personal trust as he is still calling for philanthropists.

Change Q is a specialist charity strategy consultancy. Using high impact, practical services, which suit the limited resources and time of the charity sector, we help charity teams to access vital sector information, master charity strategy tools and create shared action plans. We support charities to develop charity service strategy, partnership strategies, fundraising strategy and marketing strategy while providing insight and evaluation services and organisational development support. To find out more about how we could help you get in touch with tina.antonio@changeqconsultancy.com or visit www.changeqconsultancy.com

WHY CHARITY STRATEGY NEEDS A ‘CHARITY STRATEGY APPROACH’

Tina Antonio
Tina Antonio

Tina is founder of Change Q: specialist charity strategy consultancy. She has over 25 years experience working across the charity sector as a consultant and as Director for several major national and international charities. Winner of a Professional Fundraising Gold Award, she has spoken at national sector conferences, trained for CAF and is mentor and visiting speaker for the University of Bristol.

Regularly updating strategy typically expands charity capacity by 53% and increases income by almost a third, according to research by the Garfield Weston Foundation. That’s a significant impact. Yet, charity leaders and teams say they lack the skills and are too busy with day to day operations to be as strategic as they need to be.

Even when busy leaders and their teams finally find time to discuss strategy, many struggle with the skills needed to make progress.

According to the NCVO’s 2019 analysis of voluntary sector workplace skills, 49% of voluntary sector staff say they lack complex analytical skills, 41% struggle with problem-solving and 38% say they lack detailed knowledge of how their organisation works.

In a world of continual change, where strategy is no longer the domain of the CEO, staff need to make strategic decisions daily. This means that broader team engagement with strategy development is an absolute must, if leaders want to get change off the starting blocks. Yet the same report showed that 67% of voluntary sector staff also struggle with the soft skills so essential to achieving shared decision making amid team and cultural dynamics.

It’s not really surprising. Charity strategy development is a unique skill and charity teams face quite specific challenges.

It’s not uncommon for charity staff and trustees to draw on business strategy tools when trying to organise their way forward. It’s understandable but charity strategy is different from company strategy and needs a charity strategy approach. For one, the charity buyer and the charity service user are often physically separated, creating the unusual situation of two, separated aspects to the market. They also follow different rules. One of its audiences (fundraising) is competitive, the other (services) can be a number of things from collaborative to oligarchic, where  a few major charities virtually own a sector. As with any market, charities need to remain in touch with constantly shifting audience needs and provision. For charities though, this is hampered by an increasingly strident prerequisite for ‘ride to the knuckle’ service delivery as well as an often implied prerequisite to provide loss leading services. Sometimes, they face the added complication of outdated funder perceptions of best practice. These all make it that much harder for charities to predict and to adapt to change, and they are all considerations which differentiate charities from businesses.

Then there’s the universal issue that the success of many senior management team leaders has been built upon exceptional operational skills. Operational thinking forms a valuable knowledge base for strategy but to think strategically teams need a whole different skill set. Without it, teams will be overwhelmed at best. At worst, they can be obstructive and sweep valuable concerns under the table.

Yet few things are more central to charity sustainability than the ability of its staff and trustees to think strategically.

To understand this it’s important to define exactly what a charity strategy is. First off, it’s not just a plan. Neither is it a set of objectives designed to motivate staff. Either of these two approaches, by the way, carry the same risks as rolling a dice. Strategy considers a wide range of facets about what is going on inside and outside of a charity, and what may happen in the future. It’s a considered response to this knowledge and the result of a process of information gathering, analysis, imagination and shared discussion. It’s a pathway to achievement which takes into account potential change and which makes success more likely. It keeps charities relevant.

Companies take risks for financial reward. Charities want to be relied upon

Of course, companies, as well as charities, need and develop strategy and there are often good points of overlap and useful tools which can be applied. The difference is that the structure and needs of charities are very different from that of companies, so we may prioritise different strategy and change tools or modify them considerably for the sector. The other difference is that companies are not the most sustainable of things. 9 in 10 start-ups fail and 12% of companies are dissolved annually (Companies Register Activities, 2017-19), as companies, intent on day to day operations, find that their products fall prey to industry lifecycles and developments. Charities are, by their definition, the product of passionate purpose and intense commitment. This level of lottery would not suit the average charity staff member or volunteer. While needing to stretch and innovate, they’re in it to deliver a promise to beneficiaries – not for a high risk and potentially fleeting profit. This is borne out by their much lower dissolution rate of 3% (How Charities Work, 2019). And this is the whole point of developing and maintaining strategy, but in a charity way – for sustainable impact.

Considerations when forming charity strategy in a charity way

Unpacking some of the differences and obstacles helps charity staff and boards to get closer to the heart of being strategic in a charity way rather than in a company way. Let’s focus on 4:

  • The two charity markets. Charity service buyers and service users exist in 2 markets sharing an outcome, except in the case of Social enterprises which are more akin to the corporate model. They have different, but equally valid, needs and structures and both should be part of strategic decision making exercises
  • Connection with changing information.  No one would deny that it’s an ideal for charities to stay in touch with shifting user needs, policy change, provision changes & funder circumstances. It’s also important to recognise too, that for the charity sector, perhaps more than any other, that there are structural and cultural obstacles to doing this which need to be overcome. Charity services often address complex, tricky problems so charity leaders and teams need to be able to read a complex system of interactions which, by its very nature routinely masks impending change. Yet these could be valuable opportunities or serious issues, which can threaten service demand and funding, seemingly overnight. These challenges can be overcome, but to do so they have to overcome the culture of frugality preventing charities from taking space to read the system and to innovate. This in itself is threatening the very sustainability of charities, as they fail to adapt
  • The implicit requirement that a charity will provide loss leading services as well as self-sustaining ones. This cuts to the core of charity sector attitudes about the value of services and about the power of funders to negotiate added value. It also pinpoints the need, not just for greater impact and cost reporting, but also for greater use of this information to raise awareness of the issues and to help form strategic responses in the form of  partnerships, marketing approaches or funding streams which sustain or adapt the business model
  • The overwhelming nature of information without the tools to manage it.  All these issues and ‘pieces’ of information make for a potentially unmanageable decision making process, when placed into a charity setting with busy staff and trustees, different and valid perspectives, a strong passion in the cause and limited time and charity strategy skills to absorb and consider the implications, let alone agree upon a shared course of action. Knowing which strategy tools to use and how to use them to create charity strategy is essential but so are the soft skills to invite participation and to accommodate diverse perspectives.

Change Q is a specialist charity strategy consultancy. Using high impact, practical services, which suit the limited resources and time of the charity sector, we help charity teams to access vital sector information, master charity strategy tools and create shared action plans. We support charities to develop charity service strategy, partnership strategies, fundraising strategy and marketing strategy. To find out more about how we could help you get in touch with tina.antonio@changeqconsultancy.com or visit http://www.changeqconsultancy.com