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Skills-based volunteering with Cranfield Trust

Written by: Marie Langan, Project Manager at Cranfield Trust
Published on: 21 Jan 2021

hand reaching for hand

Pic: Scott Graham, Unsplash

Cranfield Trust was founded in 1989 to provide pro bono management consultancy to UK charities using volunteers from the business community. Originally, this consisted of support with business plans, however there are now many ways to volunteer, especially for ICAEW members who have a wide range of transferable skills. 

Here are three examples of ICAEW members supporting charities during 2020, a particularly challenging year. 

Traditional consultancy projects 

R-evolution is a charity set up in the East Riding of Yorkshire in 2015 to work with offenders, ex-offenders, people struggling with their mental health, finding work, or just needing a helping hand. 

CEO John Marshall contacted Cranfield Trust in March for support with a business plan. Per John, “the Charity Sector is highly skilled and relies on people who can apply themselves to a multitude of different disciplines, however sometimes it is important to access specific expertise which may not exist internally. Cranfield Trust provides a non-contractual solution.” 

The local Cranfield Trust Project Manager identified this as a perfect role for an accountant - ICAEW member Godfrey Burley provided a good fit and commenced the project in April. Per John, “this project has been enormously valuable. Volunteers bring skills to a project, but also something intangible, the perspective of a friendly and trusted outsider who can help shape the organisation’s future.” 

As for Godfrey, he was “very pleased to have been able to help R-evolution to clearly define its future development.” 

Cranfield Trust “On Call”  

Our “On Call” service was piloted across Wales in 2019 to provide charities with more immediate telephone support. When Covid-19 arrived, “On Call” was quickly adopted across the UK to meet the unprecedented demand from charities. ICAEW Diploma in Charity Accounting holder Frank Learner soon became invaluable providing advice to, among others, Tir Dewi, a charity providing support to the Welsh farming community (see photos below of CEO Gareth Davies and “team”!) . Per Gareth, “We are growing rapidly and had outgrown our current reporting structure. Frank not only helped us to understand where we needed to be with our financial reporting but also in terms of reporting to the Charity Commission and funding partners.” 

Frank enjoyed the diversity of organisations needing help, and for Cranfield Trust, “On Call” has been a great way to reach more small charities providing vital support. 

Online training 

Cranfield Trust traditionally held face-to-face Masterclasses on various topics fundamental to charity leadership and governance. When the pandemic hit, we immediately took these online. In the past year, we’ve delivered 12 webinars to over 2,570 attendees on topics as diverse as resilience, lean management and re-opening after lockdown, using volunteers generously giving their time. ICAEW member Kate Masters devised and presented “Talking and Walking Through Numbers” as part of our Future Focus webinar series. You can view this and all our other webinars on our webinar channel

To find out more, see our website for case studies and how to volunteer. Make 2021 the year you make a difference to a voluntary sector organisation near you! 

*The views expressed are the author’s and not ICAEW’s.