Mass Observation was an organisation which collected information on everyday lives between 1937 and 1949, and today’s Mass Observation project runs a national writing panel, whereby people write on personal, political and social issues, as well as events two or three times a year.  Every 12th May, Mass Observation asks people to write to them with a day’s diary, and some of these were read out on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme.  It was great to hear stories of moths, memorials, donkeys, and volunteering with the NHS.  

On 12th May 2020, we were 7 weeks into our first lockdown, not expecting that the pandemic would have such a long-term impact, but worried about our health, our families, our communities and the future.  At Cranfield Trust, we ran a webinar on ‘A Practical Guide to Re-Opening after Covid Closedown’ in June 2020, not realising how long it would be until most premises would re-open.  (The webinar is available on demand, and will be just as relevant now).

We’ve looked back over the last year at our work, what’s been happening to the small to medium size charities we work with, and the skills they’ve needed to keep going.  It’s been a time of enormous pressure for charity leaders and managers, and they’ve reached for external support to work with them as leaders, as well as to support their organisations.

Alongside looking at our own work, we ran a survey to ask charities about management challenges, and our headline findings included:

  • The main skill that leaders needed to draw on in the last year was ‘strategic thinking and planning ahead’, but that 81% of respondents had found that it was a challenge having enough time and space to think strategically, as well as dealing with day-to-day matters. 
  •  34% of leaders felt that they have good skills to deal with the challenges they’ve faced, but 35% felt that there are skills gaps in their team.
  • 18% felt that they have gaps in their own skills.  

Read the full report here

Cranfield Trust’s services have been more in demand in the last twelve months than ever before. We’ve worked on over 500 new assignments with charities and had over 3,000 delegates to our webinars.  We’re working to reach more charities with our free management services, through telephone advice, management webinars, mentoring or consultancy support.

We hope that the next twelve months, while undoubtedly challenging, will give charities and their leaders and managers the opportunity to draw breath, to take some time off, and to steady their organisations, securing their vital services, and moving forward with a blend of traditional and new ways of working, finding the best ways to deliver their services.  Cranfield Trust will be here for welfare charities, to help with next steps, and new challenges.  I look forward to next year’s report, looking back at this period, and hope you find this year’s report of interest.

With best wishes


Amanda Tincknell, CEO Cranfield Trust 

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