The Skills Collaborative: Pro bono professional support for charities in uniquely challenging times


Cranfield Trust pro bono management consultancy

In this uniquely challenging current environment, UK grant partners of Oak’s Housing & Homelessness programme can turn to The Skills Collaborative.  We provide pro bono access to services to develop leadership, strengthen organisational resilience, and evaluate impact, all designed to support organisations to deliver their missions and their critical services in the context of unprecedented economic pressures and soaring levels of service demand. 

Our services are delivered by skilled business and economics professionals: business leaders, management consultants, specialists in finance, comms and HR, mentors, trainers and economists. As a partnership of three specialist providers –  Cranfield Trust, Pilotlight and Pro Bono Economics – we are working together to deliver joined-up, flexible and responsive support. This current offer builds on a successful pilot programme which supported 10 charities in 2019 and 2020.

How does it work?

In a nutshell, The Skills Collaborative aims to provide a ‘one stop shop’ with a personalised advisory service: our team will work with you to explore which type of support from our wide-ranging menu of services could be most helpful, depending on your situation and preferences. 

  1. Organisations interested in taking up any of our support are invited to express interest in The Skills Collaborative, rather than applying directly to a specific provider. The form is designed to be quick to complete.  Applications from organisations without a clear idea of what kind of support they need are very welcome. 
  2. We will then contact you to schedule a discussion. We’ll ask you more about your organisation’s business needs, your time constraints and the type of experience that would suit you or your team. We’ll then talk through a shortlist of support types from our menu of specialised services to explore what might suit you best. We may ask for further information about your organisation.
  3. We’ll connect you with the provider which offers the support that suits you best.
  4. We aim to be flexible and needs-led. We envisage that some organisations may benefit from more than one piece of support, either immediately or at a later date within this 2021/2022 offer.

What support is available?

Cranfield Trust free management consultancy

Our services fall into three key areas:

  1. Impact evaluation
  2. Leadership development 
  3. Organisational resilience

Formats vary from one-off training events to regular engagements and intensive projects that span several months. Delivery models vary from highly participatory to more expert-intensive, but all require the grantee organisation to devote some time to get the most out of the support.

Here are some examples of the types of project available to Oak Foundation grantees:

1. Impact evaluation

  • Introductory workshops on impact measurement
  • Economic evaluation of impact, e.g. to enable you to make statements such as ‘for every £1 invested in our work, we generate £x of benefits to society’
  • Economic analysis of the cost of an issue, often for advocacy purposes e.g ‘failure to support children exposed to domestic violence in the UK could cost taxpayers up to £1.4 billion’
  • Data analysis and visualisation 

2. Leadership Development

  • Mentoring
  • Peer to peer support: groups of charity leaders meet to share challenges and insights
  • Holistic coaching programme

3. Organisational Resilience 

  • Management consultancy
  • Strategic and business planning
  • Financial management
  • Scenario-planning
  • Generating organisational efficiencies and effectiveness
  • HR
  • Marcomms

View full menu of services

What do charities say about the offer?

Watch this short video and learn more from charity leaders who took part in our pilot programme.


Key dates

  • 16 March 2021 - Online launch event for Oak Foundation grantees. 
  • 19  April 2021 - Expression of Interest reviews begin. 
    • We expect to continue to rview Expressions of Interest while we deliver support in 2021 and 2022. 

Further information

Please email the Skills Collaborative partnership manager, Jessica Harneyford.

Send email

About The Skills Collaborative partners 

  • Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, India and North America, we make grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.
  • Pilotlight connects Pilotlighters (business members) with charitable organisations to unlock solutions that help charities become more effective and sustainable.
  • Pro Bono Economics uses economics to support the social sector and to increase wellbeing across the UK. It combines project work for individual not-for-profits and social enterprises with policy research that can drive systemic change.
  • Cranfield Trust is the UK’s leading provider of pro bono management support for the voluntary sector.
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Registered Charity No: 800072 | Scottish Charity No: SCO40299 | Company No: 2290789 | Telephone No: 01794 830338
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