This morning I was cleaning out my pet rabbits and it reminded me of the times I spent volunteering for the small charity that I adopted them from. The charity is exclusively run by passionate volunteers who have a vision that every animal in the Richmond Upon Thames area should be loved and cared for. They give up their spare time to look after unwanted animals, raise funds to provide care, and find them new homes.
What I learned from scooping poop
When I lived in the area I spent a few spare Sunday afternoons helping the “foster carers” clean out some of the rabbits’ hutches. They were so grateful. When you run a small charity, the work is often never-ending; there is always something that needs to be done and many tasks cannot be put off until later. Delays can come at the detriment of those that you exist to support. It is hard to find time for all but the immediately pressing tasks.
The challenge
On 1st August 2017, I will be starting a new role as CEO of the Small Charities Coalition (the SCC). The charity is currently conducting a strategic review. It is therefore vital that I get out and about talking to small charities. I need to ensure I fully understand where the SCC’s limited time and resources can be best invested to serve the needs of our members.
I already know that our members are time poor. I have been discussing with the team how we can manage this. I am confident that charities who find the time to share their challenges with us will see a return in the future. We will use the information shared to address some of the issues facing small charities. But we face a dilemma; we know that finding the time to invest in the future is often not something that our members have the luxury of being able to find…so how will they find it for me?
A potential solution
This morning, as I was cleaning out my bunnies, I realised that there will be a lot of people working, or volunteering, for charities that have tasks that don’t require any volunteer management or training (both of which cost time and money) and can be done while maintaining a conversation. This provides us with an opportunity to kill two metaphorical birds with one stone. If small charities have simple tasks that can be done while having a chat then I could have the conversations I need and not take anyone’s time away from the things that must be done.
Do you work for a small charity?
I am therefore looking for opportunities to talk to small charities (organisations with a turnover of less than £1million), while helping you with your work. Could I help you clean dirty hutches, stuff envelopes, clean toilets, or assist with other simple activities that absorb your precious time? In exchange, I would love to pick your brains at the same time so that I can ensure that I have the information needed to properly inform my Trustees as to how the Small Charities Coalition can best support our members. This will by no means be the only way that I will be interacting with small charities but it is one of the many engagement opportunities that I hope to offer when I take up my new role.
If you can think of other ways that I can helpfully pick the brains of people who run small charities then I would love to hear from you.
Please reply to me in the comments or find me on Twitter - @MsMandyJ