From coping to hoping
The last ten months have been a roller coaster of emotions, effort and energy for everyone. It’s extraordinary what’s been achieved by the voluntary sector - in spite of many challenges and difficulties.
Across our work at Cranfield Trust, we’re seeing charity leaders we work with falling broadly into two groups - 'Coping' or 'Hoping'.
Coping - we continue to see charity Chief Executives under huge pressure, often feeling that they’re going backwards in this new period of lockdown. They’re really feeling the effects of long-term strain, and are not always recognising that they are under pressure – they’re fulfilling their roles but are not necessarily taking account of their own wellbeing.
We’ve had charities feeling that they’ve exhausted every possible fundraising option, and those that have some dependence on events (like the Marathon, the Great North Run or individual fundraising events) are having to factor in that these are unlikely to happen this year, and that moving back to established forms of income generation is going to take much longer than anticipated. In delivering services, the new variant is making people more cautious and some are cutting back on services that involve in person contact.
Hoping: The other group are no longer in crisis mode – they have accepted new ways of working and feel that they understand the requirements and impact of these. They’re planning ahead – perhaps with shorter planning horizons than usual. Some are extending previous strategic plans to give themselves space and make sure they can keep things going before making substantial longer-term changes. International charities are having to take account of what’s happening in their areas of work around the world, as well as conditions in the UK, which creates complexity, but for everyone, scenario planning helps to prepare for the future, whatever it brings.
Whether coping or hoping, Cranfield Trust volunteers are working to support leaders and organisations through this new period of change and adjustment. Most in demand at present are mentors: supportive partners who work alongside charity leaders to help plan ahead, rehearse decisions and contribute an independent perspective. Forward planning is our second largest area of work – the planning process is often as valuable as the plan: exploring scenarios and gathering colleagues’ views and ideas to prepare for the way ahead.
The pandemic has prompted much positive collaborative activity. For Cranfield Trust, our long history of people working together, across different sectors, bringing together their experience, continues to be highly relevant. As we face more and more complex questions about education, opportunity, poverty, homelessness, loneliness, health and almost every aspect of our lives, we must find every way to work and think together. By fostering creativity and relationships, we enable voices to be heard, ideas to flourish and the best solutions to develop.