The past year has presented the most unprecedented financial crisis that many charities have ever faced. The sector has been juggling remote working, redundancies and income uncertainty, while those providing frontline services in particular are fighting to keep vital charitable work going. In response, CFG has strived to keep our members, and the wider sector, abreast of this rapidly changing environment and really emphasise the different channels of support available.
As we draw close to the end of the year, it's natural to reflect on what has been a tumultuous and unsettling time for everyone. I encourage you to take a minute to reflect, not only on the bad, but also the positive experiences you have had across the year. And I wanted to take this chance to pick out some noteworthy moments of the year here at CFG. We believe that within the chaos, we have had a rare amount of time for innovation and creativity, whilst sharing vulnerability and empathy – all core values to us.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, CFG and other sector bodies have been focused on understanding the devastating economic impact to the sector, while working alongside other organisations across the charity and voluntary sector in making asks of the government to announce a package of measures to financially support charities. As part of the #NeverMoreNeeded coalition, we've campaigned to help secure a better deal for the sector and that work will continue as we head into 2021.
Linked to this, we recently coordinated a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak with 150 leaders of charity representative bodies and funders, calling on the government to work with the sector to tackle plummeting income and a rise in demand for many.
We are proud to be a leading voice for the sector, and one example of this is the IFR4NPO project. This work represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the financial reporting landscape and create a much more solid foundation for the non-profit sector from which to demonstrate its accountability and secure the trust of its many stakeholders.
Although some of these may seem like unusual examples of positives, it has reaffirmed the need for a unifying voice for the sector and we are proud to lead and support other fantastic organisations that also are striving for a more stable and secure charity sector.
Building our communities
Internally, we have been working hard to review and reinvent the way we deliver our services. Traditional services for CFG are built around the importance of face-to-face and relationship-based contact, therefore with our whole events portfolio transitioning online, it meant we needed to put our thinking caps on.
With a constant emphasis on innovation, CFG quickly adapted to the new challenge and have undergone a review in order to identify where we can recreate what once was a face-to-face interaction digitally.
Fortunately, the abrupt shift to a digital world has allowed us to reach and unite our members quicker and easier than ever. Not only has our established offering remained achievable, we have added greater focus on the need for deeper engagement with our members and strengthening our sense of community in order to survive the pandemic. Our virtual regional engagement forums are just one example of this. The forums provide a space for our members to report back on their regional specific problems and network with members who are managing similar challenges.
Support for the sector
Looking back on 2020, I’m also proud that we have successfully developed a virtual mentoring scheme with three pairing and training webinars and now monthly check-in sessions with both cohorts to share tips and experiences of their mentoring journeys.
From its fantastic feedback, we have decided to continually roll-out virtual cohorts across the year to ensure that all of our members have the ability to connect with a mentoring partner. We believe that a mentoring relationship is more vital than ever, with an added importance given to allowing ourselves some time to reflect and discuss how we are coping with our current surroundings.
Our special interest groups are also meeting more regularly. Identifying pockets of our membership to connect and introduce has increased the support network for finance professionals sector-wide.
We believe that our members need support more than ever, and we continue to strive for robust financial best practice within charities by putting finance at the heart of social change organisations, regardless of their size.
In November, we launched the Small Charities Membership Bursary scheme – thanks to the generosity of a grant from Garfield Weston Foundation. The scheme gives smaller charities that have been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 crisis the chance to join CFG membership without the worry of paying membership fees. We’re delighted that a significant number of small charities have already applied. You can find out more about the bursary here.
Like so many organisations, in 2020 we recognised that communication was the key to survival and success. We want to hear how our members are doing as it’s by having those conversations that we'll be able to continue to shape what we offer.
Looking ahead to next year, our renewals process will look slightly different, so please keep an eye out for all correspondence. We’d hate for you to miss out!
If you are interested in any of the benefits mentioned in this article, or would like to share any interesting learnings from 2020, or would like to feedback anything to the team, we’d love to hear from you! Please email the membership team or tweet us @CFGtweets.
The CFG team would like to wish you a lovely break and a very happy and healthy 2021!
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