With research suggesting a typical charity is providing more services despite seeing its income shrink, the Third Sector is doing more with less. The current economic climate could therefore appear to have made charities more efficient, but does it make them more effective?
In this Third Sector Forum we were delighted to welcome three guest speakers:
Jane Whitworth, Project Manager (Scotland) for the Cranfield Trust. Jane reviewed some of the key learnings from its work supporting 260 charities over the last year – highlighting key challenges facing the sector and the value of commercial skills in helping charities manage these and serve their communities effectively.
Mike Finlayson, Chief Executive, Forth Sector. Forth Sector is a charity which uses the tools of business to support people with mental health conditions and disabilities into employment. In 2008 60% of income came from revenue grants, it was losing money and supported just 100 clients a year. This year only 6% of its income will come from grants; next year will be zero. It will support more than 400 people this year and employs 40% more staff. Recently it achieved the highest pro-rata Work Programme outcomes of any sub-contractor in Scotland. Forth Sector will open a new £3 million employment and enterprise centre next year and expects to double in size within the next four years. Mike Finlayson shared with us Forth Sector’s rollercoaster ride during a time of economic crisis and suggested that many charities have little choice other than to trade, but do not have to sell their souls in the process.
Jayne Stuart, Director, WEA Scotland. Working within a charity founded in 1903 provides great opportunities and challenges for maintaining the best of tradition and legacy, whilst transforming and modernising for current and future markets. Jayne Stuart of WEA Scotland outlined those opportunities, challenges, as well as the pros and cons of moving to a renewed business and operating model within WEA Scotland.
David Dunsire, Head of Charity Law Team, Tods Murray in the chair