Late 2019 marked several significant changes for CFG. As we approached the end of our three-year strategy, and one year into a plan to invest reserves to make CFG fit for the future, a brave and committed senior team came to some bold conclusions:
CFG must ensure that it connects its members in a deeper way, to create a movement that transcends the direction of travel predicted for membership bodies.
At the time, many thought that membership bodies had had their day; that in a modern context people consume information differently and often for free. So, why remain part of something like an infrastructure body for charity finance professionals?
The team at CFG shares a belief that human beings need to connect, to share experiences and to be part of a community. And in this way, by ensuring that CFG was more than simply a provider of products and services, we render CFG fit for the future.
The senior team recognised that we needed to reshape skills and inject some new ones. So, as all of us leant into the challenges of entering the pandemic in March 2020, CFG were also part way through a restructure which would see significant change across the team.
But with this came a focus on members, their experience and how we deliver support in a modern world. It is testament to those individuals involved that we were able to complete our restructure and continue to deliver to the sector.
Shared experiences and needs
Our experience, lessons and challenges for the future, I suspect, mirror many of yours.
The explosion of digital. The massive increase in collaborative and agile working. The need to focus on wellbeing and humanity.
Prior to the pandemic, we knew that many of the solutions to some crunchy challenges we were facing, were not necessarily right for our members and other stakeholders.
For example, we wanted to reach and engage with members further afield and digital technology provided the answer. But what if a more digital approach didn’t suit our members?
So, the first thing I am going to say about the pandemic is how grateful I am that all of us were thrust into a rapid learning curve of digital delivery and virtual working at the same time. It has truly transformed what we can do as a membership body and opened up rich seams that we can explore for the future.
During the last two years, we have successfully brought in new skills and fresh thinking around membership products and services, and communications in particular.
This has unlocked gems like The Finance Journey – our finance professionals development framework – and it has put us on a path to truly realising the full potential of this concept.
We have recently delivered a new digital Knowledge Hub that we believe is also part of this new focus on making knowledge accessible and tailored to member needs.
We’ve started to reshape and refocus our special interest groups, embraced new partnerships and collaborated in ways which were harder to achieve pre-pandemic.
We’ve leant into, and continue our exploration of, personal development, growth and wellbeing. And we believe that a diverse, inclusive and equal place of work, membership and sector is the only way to address the wicked social, political and environmental problems we face.
We are living in difficult and challenging times, but CFG is surrounded by people who refuse to give up and who believe change can be achieved through collective action.
Those of you who have seen our new Member Benefits brochure will know that we have divided what we do into four areas because we believe the elements that put CFG at the heart of your journey in the sector – whether you are a charity or corporate supporter – are around your need:
- for support
- to save time and money
- to grow your skills, knowledge and impact – what brought us together at our Annual Conference and brings us together now
- to belong
At this year's Annual Conference, these four elements – Support, Save, Grow and Belong – were affirmed for us as a staff team and I know, from my conversations with charity and corporate members at the Annual Conference, that they were for you too.
CFG isn’t about transactions and cheap CPD (though I defy you to find a better value for money offer!).
It’s not even just about hearing the latest developments and being ahead of the curve as policies are being developed.
It’s about that basic human desire to connect. To be part of something. To belong.
You belong to us and we belong to you. CFG is your charity and we thank you for the huge support you’ve given us over the last few years and for being part of this exciting movement as we head into the future together.
With thanks to SmartDesc and Microsoft, who kindly hosted the evening and provided the venue for this year's 2022 Members' Summer Gathering.
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