Charity Impact Podcast episodes 1 & 2 - Mark Lever and Dee Brecker
THE CHARITY IMPACT PODCAST: EPISODE 1&2
Mark Lever OBE – learning from CEO roles at Helpforce, National Autistic Society and Royal Voluntary Service; from successful campaigns and social enterprise investments to the devastating consequences of service failure. (#1)
Dee Brecker – choosing your next role; recruitment; diversity & inclusion; not ‘bringing your whole self to work’; networking;fundraising;strategy; consultants; coaching; and more. (#2)
THE CHARITY IMPACT PODCAST IS LIVE!
After a lot of pondering, planning and preparation, I’m delighted to launch the Charity Impact podcast.
The purpose of the Charity Impact podcast is to learn more about how effective charities and individuals achieve social change or social impact. This podcast is for anyone who wants to make a difference, but particularly those who are working for social change / impact; including charity trustees, CEOs, staff, volunteers, advisors, philanthropists and public service professionals.
As I mentioned in the longer introduction here, my plan is to produce a series of say six to 10 episodes and then review whether to continue or not.
With that in mind, I have a favour to ask:
Please listen to a couple of the first episodes and leave a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or the podcast platform you use; or if you’d prefer to share constructive feedback by e-mailplease do. I would really appreciate any feedback so I can get a sense of whether the podcast is adding value for you or what I could do to improve it.
Here are the first two episodes:
CHARITY IMPACT PODCAST EPISODE 1
Mark Lever OBE - learning from CEO roles at Helpforce, National Autistic Society
and Royal Voluntary Service; from successful campaigns and social enterprise investments
to the devastating consequences of service failure. (#1)
If I went back to being a large charity CEO I would do it differently following my experience
Mark Lever OBE is the Chief Executive at Helpforce. Mark is a Chartered Accountant with a Cranfield MBA. The first 13 years of his career were spent training and practising as a Chartered Accountant, he then decided to leave the world of finance and move into the third sector – a decision he has not regretted for a single minute of his 25 + years in the sector. During this time, he has been Chief Executive of the WRVS (now Royal Voluntary Service) and the National Autistic Society. He joined Helpforce in 2019 and has been leading the charity in its mission to accelerate the growth and impact of volunteering in health and care. Mark has held numerous trustee positions and in his time at Helpforce has been awarded an OBE for services to volunteering during the pandemic.
In this episode, we discuss a range of topics including growing the impact of volunteering health and care; joining the sector; different CEO roles; prioritising relationships over tasks; turning £3m into £15m through social enterprise; campaigning; managing the impact of service failure; communicating your vision; the importance of charities to society and the lack of recognition from Government.
Dee Brecker – choosing your next role; recruitment; diversity & inclusion; not ‘bringing your whole self to work’; networking; fundraising; strategy; consultants; coaching; and more. (#2)
Unless you can show and evidence that you are a truly inclusive organisation, you do not have the right to ask someone to bring their ‘whole self’ to work.
Update: As of January 2023, Dee Brecker is Principal Consultant and Executive Coach at FJ Philanthropy.
At the time of this episode, Dee Brecker was Deputy Director of High Value Fundraising at Guys and St Thomas’ Charity. Dee has previously held senior roles in philanthropy, fundraising and communications at a range of interesting organisations including the LSE, Carers UK, Sense and the Department of Health. Dee’s also been a trustee, a chair, a consultant and is a qualified coach.
I know Dee because we’ve worked together a couple of times directly and because we try to stay in touch when we’re not working together. I see Dee as an excellent fundraiser and relationship builder, importantly an organisational navigator, a thinker, strategist and an articulate communicator.
Dee has some great insights to share. We discuss recruitment, from both sides; working in and across organisations of differing sizes; diversity and inclusion – finding the confidence to speak up, demonstrate diversity in leadership and fighting to recruit more diverse teams; the benefits of informal catch ups with peers; asking beneficiaries to donate; strategy development; working with consultants and agencies; facilitation; and coaching.
Structuring work and life – impact of wfh = 25 hours per week of commuting saved, more time to think, more time for the team; more time for life; thinking space is as important as working space – cycling a good place to do that, where the more creative ideas and problem solving happens.
Prioritisation of relationships over tasks – external facing e.g. relationships with funders and looking after team members. After that, most of the to do list isn’t as urgent as it might feel. Build in time to decompress.
Becoming a partner at an accountancy firm at 32 and thinking is this it for the next 30 years, to making an impact at the RVS – opening up the incredible world of volunteering.
“I thought I’d do it for a year or two then go back into accountancy but within weeks of visiting projects at the RVS I knew I was never going to look back”
Turning £3m into an annual profit share revenue stream and a £15m sale through an early social enterprise investment for RVS.
Training as a charity income stream – “it is very difficult to make a significant income stream from training, despite notable exceptions like St John’s Ambulance and Red Cross first aid training … a lot of training departments in charities say they can make money from training but I’ve never seen a significant income stream making a significant margin”
13 years at RVS, 6 in my first CEO role, then 12 years of happy challenging years at the National Autistic Society (NAS) before beginning the Helpforce journey. Reflecting on 3 different CEO roles (from 4,000 staff at NAS to 18 at Helpforce). Importance of alignment with the vision and mission – even more so in a smaller organisation. The impact of mission creep. The closeness of trustees to the executive team – more of a significant resource to a smaller charity.
“If I went back to being a large charity CEO I would do it differently following my experience at Helpforce.”
“I would say no to more things”
Inefficiency arises from layers of communication; getting lost in translation; losing efficiency.
“Greater clarity brings greater impact.”
How the NAS achieved the first ever piece of disability specific legislation – the Autism Act – clear strategy, excellent teamwork, perseverance, lobbying, relationship building, grassroots support from families and more.
Making it easy for people to say yes to your proposal.
The devastating consequences of service failure – abuse of people in care. What went wrong. Big lessons. Reducing the chance of it happening again.
Charities have tremendous knowledge of how support should be provided in the areas they work. They are not consulted enough in service design by Government.
Financial sustainability in the sector.
The power of small local charities to mobilise community support e.g. during the pandemic – hoping we don’t lose the sense of reliance on those charities and the way funding restrictions were rolled back. The crisis we face now with the cost of living, waiting lists and issues getting GP appointments – we need these charities now and they need to be trusted with unrestricted funding.
Should Government funds be invested less in statutory services and more in local charities who can make an impact now and ultimately prevent the need for acute services later. There is a clear business case.
Advice for aspiring CEOs – ensure it’s a cause you’re passionate about the cause. External communication is such a big part of the role. You have to feel it. Take more trustee roles – you can learn a lot from that side.
The Back to Health campaign – we are asking health and care organisations to create high-impact volunteering opportunities at scale that can help one million people to get more support in the hospital, community and at home. We want you (local NHS and voluntary sector organisations) to benefit from our expertise, tools and resources. Check out the web page to find out more about how you can get involved.
“Through this campaign, we want to start a national conversation to raise awareness of the huge impact of volunteering on our health and care system and to encourage more organisations to look at volunteers as an integral part of their health and care pathway.”
The importance of delegated authority for efficient working in larger organisations vs how stifling bureaucracy can be.
Do charities need to grow to a large scale to achieve their goals?
Working across charities, the NHS and Government departments.
Addressing negative media coverage of the sector.
Diversity and inclusion, including dealing with the menopause being like a disability.
Moving from not rocking the boat to having the confidence to speak up on diversity issues within organisations. Fighting to recruit people from diverse backgrounds.
Showing that leadership comes in different forms. Building trust with teams.
“Unless you can show and evidence that you are a truly inclusive organisation, you do not have the right to ask someone to bring their whole self to work”.
Purposeful catch ups and making time for your network when working from home / remotely. The benefits of informal catch ups with peers to reflect on challenges and how remote working changes how we do this.
Asking beneficiaries to donate – making it work and dealing with complaints.
Ambitious fundraising strategies and targets. Investing in the team. Sustaining impact after you leave.
Working with consultants. The benefits of having an external view and broader sector experience. Facilitator consultants vs directive consultants. Needing to have viewpoints challenged.
Investing in executive coaching to support teams during transitions. Making coaching purposeful.
This Podcast is brought to you by KEDA Consulting, which provides strategic consultancy support to charities.
KEDA is led by Alex Blake who works as a management consultant, specifically for charities and non-profits in the UK, with the aim of maximising social impact. We help charities to be as effective as possible in delivering their charitable objectives through developing strategy and plans; securing funding; undertaking reviews; and a range of other consulting projects involving research, analysis, facilitation and reporting.
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