Pick of the Month - March 2022
1 March 2022 | By Faye Edwards
March is here and with it, we bring you this month’s round up of individuals doing great things in the sector. In this pick, we feature a Development Director at Mountview, a Chief Executive offering her advice to prospective CEOs, the leader of a social enterprise supporting young people from African and Caribbean communities facing mental health issues and the Treasurer and Vice Chair of Luton Citizens Advice.
Fellow of the Month – Charlotte Castle, Mountview
Charlotte Castle is Development Director at Mountview, one of the UK’s top drama schools as well as a thriving arts centre; engaging hundreds of local people each week and providing a home for resident and visiting arts organisations in Peckham.
“I joined Mountview at a really interesting time in its history, having just completed a major capital campaign and moved into our £30m purpose-built home in Peckham Square. This was essentially the first time the organisation had embarked on strategic fundraising, and having built philanthropy into the business model for the new building, I was recruited to build the organisation’s revenue fundraising function.
My role as Development Director is very broad-ranging, and I cover all areas of fundraising. A particular focus for me has been setting up the infrastructure to allow for significant growth in income – this has involved everything from creating a prospect management system right through to building strong relationships with Trustees and championing fundraising to key internal stakeholders.”
Reflecting on the Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Senior Fellowship programme, Charlotte said:
“It’s been a really valuable opportunity to take a step back from everyday life and think deeply about my craft. Being a Development Director can sometimes feel like a lonely place to be – you’re under huge pressure to deliver, and you are generally the most experienced person in your organisation when it comes to fundraising. Having access to such a brilliant cohort of peers is a gift. It’s a safe space to be able to discuss the challenges you’re facing amongst a group of people who truly understand what you’re grappling with.”
Within her role at Mountview, Charlotte is a guest lecturer, teaching the fundamentals of fundraising and how to develop a strong case for support. Charlotte spoke to us about what she is passionate about seeing change in the sector:
“There is so much work to be done to demystify the work we do as fundraisers, and to champion it as an extraordinarily rewarding career path. Fundraisers have the potential to bring so much value to their organisations, to the communities that we serve and to the philanthropists we partner with. If your organisation dares to dream, it’s likely it’s the fundraisers who will be the ones to get you there.”
Check out Charlotte’s work at Mountview on twitter at @MountviewLDN
Social Entrepreneur of the Month – Samantha Francis, Find A Balance
Find A Balance is a Mental Health provision and a back-to-work service provider working with young people and adults from African and Caribbean communities facing mental health issues. As the company Director, Samantha Francis is responsible for finding effective ways to deliver their services, securing new contracts and ensuring the overall, everyday running of the organisation.
“We work with Government, charitable and private organisations as well as individuals to provide them with a 12 to 24-week programme that supports these young people and adults into a better mindset, back into education, employment, employability training and entrepreneurship. This is achieved by developing a bespoke personal care plan tailored to the their needs, which includes everything from therapy sessions to family consultations and employability training.”
Find A Balance work to support indiduals and organisations by offering several different programmes including the 24-week ‘My Balanced Work Life’ programme, the ‘Supporting Our Young’ programme and ‘The Balanced Support’ monthly membership programme.
Samantha spoke briefly about how the organisation has adapted to COVID:
“Throughout the pandemic, we have been oversubscribed with referrals from both adults and young people and we have had to adapt by changing the way we deliver our services. Moving across to online delivery. We have managed to create successful workshop based sessions to accommodate the needs of our clients.”
Samantha has worked with young people and adults from all walks of life. Many from disadvantaged backgrounds, giving her extensive experience in offering support, advocacy and guidance to individuals to enable them to take up sustainable employment. Samantha is able to recognise that many of these young people are vulnerable, have low self-esteem, often carry trust issues and find it difficult to cooperate with the authorities. The workshops at Find A Balance have helped suffering individuals through their own personal development as well as bridging the gap between their needs and the way service providers meet them.
We asked Samantha what she is passionate about seeing change in the sector:
“I would love to see more funding being put into the NHS and services that support individuals from ethnic minorities. Counsellors based in Primary to Secondary schools. I think that mental health workshops should be compulsory in all educational establishments.”
Finally, Samantha’s advice for anyone starting out in the sector is:
“Do your research, know your competitors, understand your target market and prepare to be lonely at first. Being a social entrepreneur can be very lonely place. When things go wrong and you feel like giving up, remember why you started your business and went into the sector in the first place.”
Keep up to date with Samantha’s incredible work at Find A Balance on Twitter at @Find_Abalance
Trustee of the Month – Peter Sutton, Luton Citizens Advice
Peter Sutton is Treasurer and Vice Chair of Luton Citizens Advice. Peter initially applied for the position of Trustee and Treasurer after spotting this as the perfect opportunity to gain Board level experience which could support his career in the not-for-profit sector.
“The experience has been life changing as I could see at first hand and for the first time the vital role Citizens Advice has to play in the community; the purposeful work that the staff and volunteers did and how I could contribute my skills and experience in supporting and governing the team. It accelerated my decision to leave paid work and focus on my voluntary opportunities.”
Peter spoke to us about the impact of the pandemic on how the Board now operate:
“As a trustee, Covid in many ways enhanced my engagement and the governance of the business. In March 2020, Luton Citizens Advice closed its doors for the first time in its history and pivoted to telephone and digital advice. The Board implemented a weekly Emergency Trustee Meeting attended by key trustees and representatives from the senior leadership where we focussed on ensuring staff and volunteers had the right equipment to work remotely and that we were continuing to support staff, volunteers and clients through the challenges of the pandemic.The meetings moved to fortnightly and have remained in place to this day. They have been hugely beneficial to me as a Trustee as I have gained a far greater understanding of the operational side of the business and the greater level of regular engagement has enhanced the enjoyment of the role and hopefully the value I can add as a Trustee.”
Offering his advice to anyone considering becoming a Trustee, Peter said:
“I would recommend anyone of any age or experience to become a Trustee. You learn new skills, gain different experiences and you do important and purposeful work. You also get to work with dedicated and hard working colleagues doing amazing things for their communities.
I would advise that they go in with their eyes open - be aware that the more you invest in your understanding of the role and the charity you are working with, the greater the satisfaction you will gain. There are a number of great courses where you can learn more about being a trustee and network with your peers - these are very valuable and I wish I had done more of these earlier as you pick up so much insight that you can bring back to your Board. You never stop learning in your paid work and the same is true as a Trustee.”
You can keep up to date with Peter on Twitter at @Luton_CAB
Charity Leader of the Month – Sara Crofts, The Institute of Conservation
Sara Crofts joined The Institute of Conservation (Icon) as Chief Executive in 2019 after a previous policy role at the Heritage Fund. Sara trained as an architect at Edinburgh College of Art, specialising in building conservation and in her role at Icon, she is responsible for strategic planning and implementation, internal operations and external relations.
The Institute of Conservation brings people with a passion for the care of cultural heritage together by advancing the education of the public through research into the conservation of items and collections of cultural, aesthetic, historical and scientific value. The owners of historic objects and collections care deeply about their assets – but don’t always know how to best look after them. Icon help ensure these treasured items are treated with care and respect, preserving the items that matter most to people to guarantee that our shared stories survive for the inspiration of present and future generations. Icon are soon to be launching a new marketing strategy to reach out to conservators working outside of the UK to encourage them to take up Icon Accreditation.
Sara spoke to us about how the pandemic has impacted her work at Icon:
“I spent a year learning about Icon and our members and starting to generate ideas and then – COVID struck. So, like other leaders, my focus switched to supporting staff and members through a challenging time, and to making sure that we kept the financial and operational wheels turning.
Happily we’ve started 2022 in reasonably good shape so my hope is that we can pick up the ideas and initiatives that stalled during COVID and can put our energies into creating positive change in our sector. I’m also keen to get out and about to re-kindle dormant professional relationships and to make new connections. I found that the lockdowns had a very damaging impact on our opportunities for networking and building partnerships, largely because we are a national rather than local organisation. So I am feeling excited about renewing our stakeholder relationships over the coming months.”
Sara offered her advice for prospective CEOs with three key observations which have helped her build a successful career in the heritage sector:
“Firstly, learn how to network effectively and how to make meaningful connections with people – it gets easier with practice! Follow your instinct and be curious – every experience will teach you something, even though it might not be much fun at the time. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of serendipity – but remember that it takes imagination to spot the potential and creative thinking to make the best of the opportunity.”
Check out Sara’s work on Twitter at @Conservators_UK