Amanda Tincknell CBE, Cranfield Trust Chief Executive responds to the closure of The Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI)
"It’s been very sad to hear that The FSI will close this spring, another vital infrastructure body lost to the sector. The recent report from 360Giving showed how infrastructure is falling behind – numbers of infrastructure organisations are dropping, at a time when frontline organisations need all the support they can get. Demand is strong: at Cranfield Trust we receive hundreds of enquiries a year, and reach thousands with our services.
This is the time for close collaboration: those of us in the second tier need to work more closely to make the most of our resources, identify gaps in support and together address them, and critically, ensure that we stay current with sector needs.
The development of the Pro Bono Association in partnership with Pilotlight and Reach Volunteering has been a highly positive step in understanding the range of free support open to charities – its members bring expertise on subjects from legal matters to marketing, tech and impact assessment. The Association is currently developing a database of services to improve referrals between member organisations, with the aim of helping more charities easily find the right support.
At Cranfield Trust, we will do everything we can to help to address the gaps left by recent infrastructure losses: we offer free consultancy, telephone advice, mentoring, peer support groups and webinars to welfare organisations of all sizes, and when we are unable to help, will signpost to others who can. Our webinar programme is on our website, and you can also find recorded webinars covering a range of topics from cashflow forecasting to good governance in our webinar library.
We are also starting to explore the possibility of a larger scale management training programme for the sector – we’ve got a request for proposals open for some initial research. We don’t want to reinvent or duplicate existing offers, so we’ll be looking for other organisations providing training and development activities to first, map what’s available, and then explore gaps that we can address together. If you’d be interested to talk about how we can help charities to find and navigate existing training, and perhaps to join a group for further collaboration, please do get in touch with me [email protected]
It’s a real blow to the sector to lose great services, organisations and colleagues, especially at this challenging time. Let’s find ways of working together to keep supporting the frontline, and to champion infrastructure, a vital resource for our sector.”