So called ‘not-for-profit’ organisations like charities can sometimes suffer from a reluctance to view themselves as businesses, perhaps feeling that businesses only exist in the private, profit-making, sector. In fact, NFPs still need to make a surplus if they are to survive and thrive. The only difference between businesses in the two sectors is that the surplus in the voluntary sector is reinvested in the business or parent charity rather than being called profit and distributed to shareholders. The same general business principles also apply regardless of the size of the business whether it is a global corporation or a sole trader – it’s really just a question of scale.
The growth in social enterprises in recent times indicates the potential that many of us feel that such businesses have to compete with (and complement) profit-distributing businesses in the private sector. As grant funding, donations and investment return all diminish for charities, social enterprise trading presents a logical option for an additional income stream or even a more viable income strategy to allow services to be deliver in the future.
Many of my assignments are focussed on helping NFP organisations become more business-like and better able to respond to the public sector’s service outsourcing agenda.
Breadth of experience
As a business consultant and adviser, I have worked in organisations across all three sectors and have been able to draw on good practice from each and apply it to good effect. Here are a few examples from my portfolio of assignments with not-for-profit businesses:
As the consultant to a training charity I devised a new governance structure (adopted) and developed a business plan to grow the business into a new sector and reduce their dependence on funding by increasing their trading. This was complemented by some practical marketing and promotion guidance to enhance their in-house capability. The CEO commented:
“Your approach was consistently thoughtful, insightful and timely and this made the process largely pain free! I would be more than happy to recommend Greenhill Consulting to any organisations facing issues of change.“
In an assignment to improve the governance and business planning for a homeless charity, I devised and facilitated board planning sessions, revised and introduced policies, prepared an outline business plan and evaluated the potential for a quality system. Their Chair of Trustees wrote:
“Chris helped our charity through challenging times supporting our business re-organisation in an empathetic yet professional manner. He perceived our problems very quickly and steered the Trustees through a minefield of constitutional and administrative problems leaving our Charity better organised to face the future positively”
During an interim management role lasting 3 months as the CEO of a county-wide charity providing support for blind and visually impaired people I managed office and field-based staff and a network of over 180 volunteers. In addition to ensuring that service levels and funding streams were maintained, the role involved development of strategic partnerships, staff recruitment and management of the permanent CEO appointment. This is an extract from a letter from their Chair:
“…thank you for your excellent work as the interim Chief Executive Officer for the Society.
We have all been impressed by your efforts and particularly in your approach to the task. You never considered it a ‘holding’ situation and sustained the momentum of the Society, initiating and guiding change and of vital importance, maintaining a high level of morale amongst the staff. Latterly you ensured a smooth ‘handover’ to the incoming CEO, giving her great support during her first few days in the post.
Congratulations for a job well done and our gratitude for the smooth efficiency with which you have guided the Society in the past few months.”
Receiving good feedback from my clients is vital for me [and you] to know that my work is effective. Equally important is the endorsement from consulting and business advisory bodies. I am accredited by SFEDI* as a business adviser specialising in social enterprise, a qualified marketer and trained business mentor and workshop facilitator.