As a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), I was asked recently to write an article about how ICAEW members can volunteer for Cranfield Trust. Here is that article, outlining three examples of how ICAEW members supported charities during 2020, a particularly challenging year. The same opportunities could apply to members of any professional organisation – please do introduce us to your professional body!

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 and strategy plans, however there are now many ways to volunteer for individuals with a wide range of transferable skills. Volunteering for Cranfield Trust offers an opportunity to help local charities and increase your understanding of the voluntary sector.

Traditional consultancy projects

R-evolution is a charity set up in the East Riding of Yorkshire in 2015 to work with people from all backgrounds; offenders, ex-offenders, people struggling with their mental health, finding work, or just needing a helping hand. R-evolution’s projects provide skills, employment and resettlement support in an effort to reduce re-offending and increase community participation. 

R-evolution’s CEO John Marshall contacted Cranfield Trust in March asking for support with a business plan to help provide clarity on the organisation’s structure for the next four years. 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 to this situation.”

Cranfield Trust’s local Project Manager, Jo Crebbin, identified this as a perfect volunteer role for an accountant. She arranged for ICAEW member Godfrey Burley to have a chat with John to see if the fit was good for both charity and volunteer, and Godfrey subsequently commenced the project in April. John was impressed with Godfrey’s attention to detail and business experience. Per John, “the Cranfield Trust project has been enormously valuable, making us a much more professional organisation. Volunteers not only bring skills to a project, but also something intangible, the perspective of a friendly and trusted outsider who can help to shape the organisation’s future.”

As for Godfrey, as a volunteer, he was “very pleased to have been able to help R-evolution to clearly define its future development by working with John to prepare the business plan.”

Cranfield Trust “On Call”

In 2019, Cranfield Trust successfully piloted its “On Call” service across Wales to provide charities with more immediate support over the phone. When covid-19 arrived, “On Call” was quickly adopted across the UK to meet the unprecedented demand from charities. Volunteer and 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. Per CEO Gareth Davies, “Frank has been of enormous assistance to Tir Dewi.  We are growing rapidly and had outgrown our current reporting structure.  Frank not only helped us to understand where we needed to be heading with our financial reporting but also provided a clear context in terms of reporting to the Charity Commission and funding partners.  I couldn’t have even thought of the questions to ask, but Frank provided the answers!”

Frank enjoyed the diversity of organisations needing his help, and for Cranfield Trust, “On Call” has been a great way to reach more small charities providing vital support. Governance queries are common, so charity board experience is particularly valuable – per Frank, “my experience as a charity treasurer seems to enhance my credibility with the beneficiary charities.”

Taking training online 

Cranfield Trust traditionally held a series of Masterclasses across the country on various topics fundamental to charity leadership and governance. When the pandemic hit, there was no alternative but to take these online. By the end of our 2019/2020 financial year, we had delivered 11 face-to-face Masterclasses to 291 attendees, and 12 webinars to a whopping 2,570 attendees, on topics as diverse as resilience, lean management and re-opening after the covid lockdown. None of this would have been possible without volunteers generously giving their time pro bono. ICAEW member Kate Masters devised and presented the excellent webinar “Talking and Walking Through Numbers” as part of our Future Focus series of webinars in July. You can view this and all our other webinars on our webinar channel.

Cranfield Trust is happy to hear from professional and qualified individuals who can support not only projects in their specialist area, but also wider opportunities, including mentoring. To find out more, look at the case studies on our website and find out how to volunteer. Make 2021 the year you make a difference to a voluntary sector organisation near you! 

Marie Langan Bio

Marie is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales ("ICAEW") with over 28 years of accounting and auditing experience in a variety of management roles in Big Four and Top 20 firms in the UK and US, most recently in global outsourcing in the technology sector. Marie has also specialised in project management, business development, risk management and corporate governance. She has audited charities and has acted as Treasurer and Vice Chair on the Board of Trustees of a law centre. Marie joined the Trust in April 2018 as Project Manager overseeing our projects in the South West of England.

Registered Charity No: 800072 | Scottish Charity No: SCO40299 | Company No: 2290789 | Telephone No: 01794 830338
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