Swanswell and Cranstoun Merger


swansellI am pleased to report on the successful merger last month of Swanswell and Cranstoun, both national charities that provide support to people affected by addiction.

The smooth merger of these organisations is a testament to the dedication and hard work of both organisations’ senior executive teams and Boards.  They have worked tirelessly to ensure that the transition process is seamless and that services continue uninterrupted.

In the current difficult political and economic environment, this merger makes good business sense. The consolidation of operations and resources allows the new group to strengthen their sustainability and provide a robust platform to expand and develop in the future and deliver more high-quality services to individuals and communities.cranstoun_logo

The charities have a shared vision to save, change and rebuild lives and already successfully work in partnership on many projects. This is an exciting new venture and I wish the new organisation well as I end my tenure as Chair of the Board of Trustees at Swanswell.

Does the Not for Profit Sector Need Disrupting?

NFP Interchange 2016

At the last NFP Interchange debate in London the consensus was that yes, the sector certainly benefits from disruption. There were calls for charitable organisations to take the initiative and shake up on their own accord, or risk being shaken by outside forces.


The most recent of these thought provoking discussions brought together a diverse panel of experts to speak about disruption and change in their organisations as part ofGrant Thornton’s NFP Interchange programme.


Leon Ward, trustee at sexual health charity Brook, expressed the view that to create an agile organisation better able respond to disruption required ‘diverse voices’ to challenge the status quo on a board.  Having a range of ages and backgrounds represented as trustees enables freer thinking, disrupting accepted norms.


If the charity sector does not embrace change then the “shape of the playing field will be changed around us” said Paul Boissier, chief executive of the RNLI, who drew on Darwin to highlight his point, saying: “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent but it’s the one that is most adaptable to change.”

A Fresh Prespective for the Board

British Lung Foundation logo On Tuesday 24th November I was invited to speak to the Board of the British Lung Foundation, a charity that funds vital research to save and improve the lives of people with lung disease.

At their ‘away day’ in London, we spoke about the importance of good governance and the vital role they have as trustees in upholding the organisation’s vision and embedding good governance across the organisation.

As an objective outsider I enjoy adding a fresh perspective and giving insight into different approaches that organisations can take to model their values, enhance their performance and deliver the mission.


New Chair Role for Swanswell


Last month I was delighted to be appointed as the new Chair of the Board of Trustees at Swanswell, a national charity that aims to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use.


I look forward to helping the Board of Trustees shape their strategy. Swanswell is a vibrant organisation that has exciting plans for the future. It is a real honour for me to have this opportunity to work with them to develop those plans and to bring them to fruition.


Swanswell’s Chief Executive Debbie Bannigan said; ‘I’m pleased to welcome Alice Maynard to Swanswell as our new Chair. Alice brings a wealth of experience to the table which I know will help us achieve our aim of a society free from problem alcohol and drug misuse.’


To find out more about Swansell’s work click here.

The Silly Season


Oh dear it’s that time of the year again…the summer lull when there is a dearth of news about so the press takes to criticising charities. Last year Chief Executives’ pay came under assault and this year it seems the focus is on charity fundraising.

The Daily Mail recently published a personal attack on the lifestyles of four Fundraising Directors that was uncalled for. The real disappointment for me, however, was that the organisations involved did not step up in response to support their staff and their practices.  I would have liked to see a comment or two from their Chairs, perhaps outlining the impact a good Fundraising Director has on the ability of the charity to serve its beneficiaries well and the ratio of donated funds to the cost of generating these funds.  Most charities do not need to be defensive – but we often appear so by not responding proactively.  So come on Chairs and Boards: be proud of what you do and tell the world!

Rethinking an inclusive approach

Revitalise LogoOn the 24 March I was delighted to be able to facilitate a Board Strategy session for Revitalise. Revitalise is an established national charity that provides short breaks and holidays for disabled people and carers.

The board session was lively and provided a useful opportunity for board members to discuss and think through what makes for an inclusive Revitalise offering; what does inclusion really mean in the context of their vision, mission and values?

For me, it was rewarding seeing board members enthusiastically sharing ideas about how they could deliver more inclusive services in order to enhance the great work Revitalise does. I’m looking forward to hearing how their thinking develops in future.


Competition for Charities & Not for Profits at the NFP Interchange: Gold or Silver?

NFP InterchangeIt was a great privilege to speak at last week’s NFP Interchange event with fellow panellists’ Roger Harrop, Sir Tom Shebbeare and Moonpig founder, Nick Jenkins. We enjoyed hearing each others’ views on how to succeed in the not for profit sector.

We were in agreement that a win-lose approach was not the most effective. My own recipe for success involves underpinned a clear vision, a strong team and disciplined passion – passion underpinned by strategy. The session rounded off with some incisive questions from the audience.

Thank you to our hosts Grant Thornton UK and their partners, the Guardian, and to Carol Rudge who ably steered the lively debate.


Spotlight on the Charity Chairs Conference

Chairs Conference

The chair’s leadership role is vital in driving good governance in the organisation, but it can be a lonely at the top. This is why the Charity Chairs Conference this week in London was such a useful forum for charity chairs to get together in constructive dialogue and discuss the challenges and issues they face.


The conference was a year long culmination of the fantastic Lord Mayor’s Charity Leadership programme, which has provided a much needed spotlight on leadership within charities and brought together the City and charity chairs. It has also helped make a practical difference to chairs in charities through a programme of training, forums and thought leadership.


I was delighted to be on the panel discussing the Diversity of Boards chaired by Lord Gus Macdonald.  The lively panel discussion helped illustrate the many different types, makeups and sizes of non-profit Boards and provided useful ‘food for thought’ for delegates and panel members alike.



Social Media a Game Changer for Charities

Companies Dont Tweet Organisations DoLast Wednesday I attended the Charities and Social Media Dinner hosted by Grant Thornton. It was an excellent evening. The keynote speaker, Euan Semple, was very engaging and challenged us to re-examine social media and the potential it has for charities.  This was followed by animated table discussions – and, of course, great food!


Though many charities are still playing catch-up as they try to get to grips with social media, the recent runaway success of campaigns like the ‘no make-up selfie’ and the ‘ice bucket challenge’ have inspired supporters and demonstrated its enormous potential when used well.  Scope’s own End the Awkward campaign was designed for a generation of ‘digital natives’ and has been hugely successful.


The power that social media has to engage directly with stakeholders and amplify messages quickly and cost effectively is really exciting. Boards of Charities would do well to recognise and embrace this power, developing robust governance to harness the opportunity whilst not holding it back.