b:Friend is a charitable organisation that builds community connections to reduce social isolation in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Through 1:1 and group befriending, they enable opportunities for meaningful friendship to grow. The support the charity provides is free of charge to beneficiaries, ensuring that especially in communities with particular social challenges, everyone can access support regardless of financial status. Since launching in January 2017, the charity has supported over 1,200 beneficiaries and delivers over 13,500 hours of social connection per year. 


As a beneficiary charity of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), b:Friend could benefit from a national programme between MCF and Cranfield Trust to provide vital management support, so the charity made contact with Cranfield Trust for some guidance and advice. Recently appointed CEO, Colette Bunker was faced with the responsibility of developing a 3-year growth strategy and was looking for a volunteer who could support in developing this strategy, including the goals and metrics for achieving success. There were big considerations for the charity around scalable service delivery modelling, infrastructure and team structure. 

Short term, the charity hoped to create a 3-year plan outlining a vision, goals and SMART targets that inspires and enthuses both the staff team and the board of trustees. Long term, b:Friend hoped to achieve a strategy that’s fully adopted, underpins all plans and activities and that yields results.


After her enquiry and initial conversation with Cranfield Trust Project Coordinator Vanessa Longman, Colette arranged a meeting with Jo Crebbin, the Cranfield Trust Regional Manager for Yorkshire and The Humber. During this meeting, Jo was able to gather further detail from Colette on the charity, their needs and objectives, helping her to find the right volunteer for the project.

Colette was matched with Cranfield Trust volunteer Charlotte Cremers, a volunteer with the trust since 2021 and who holds experience in strategic business management, marketing, and communications.  
Following an initial meeting, Colette and Charlotte agreed to meet weekly over several months, to work together in developing a well-rounded strategic plan.

By the time they reached the end of their time together, they had formed a strategy that incorporated all the requirements set out by Colette at the outset.
As part of this project, b:Friend also worked through our Journey to Excellence tool, measuring their change, progress and success. In using this tool, the charity could assess and evaluate where they were at the beginning of the project, and the progress they had made because of the project. They could also benchmark themselves against others in the sector.


Since creating their strategy, the charity has expanded their services into a new region within the first year of the strategy’s implementation.


An additional positive impact for b:Friend has been that Cranfield Trust Volunteer Charlotte has become the Chair of its Board of Trustees so can continue to support the charity into the future.

This project has allowed b:Friend to expand their services and improve their existing services, as described below by Colette: 

“With our sustainable growth strategy we will be able to reach and support more lonely older people in new areas whilst maintaining a quality service in the areas we are already established.”

In Colette’s words...

”Getting a volunteer consultant through Cranfield Trust surpassed all my expectations. Our consultant was brilliant, really passionate about our organisation, generous with her time and had researched us well. The partnership has been so successful that we now have an effective and robust growth strategy in place and our consultant has now become our Chair of Trustees so will continue to provide impact to our charity in the longer term.”

This project not only enabled b:Friend to develop a clear and strong strategy, yielding tangible results, but also forged a lasting connection with volunteer Charlotte, who now contributes to the charity's leadership beyond the initial project. The case underscores the importance of finding the right volunteer and the profound impact it can have on a charity's long-term success.

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