16th October 2013

Safeguarding Issues and Solutions for Birmingham City Council

An independent review published in Birmingham earlier this month, showed once again a collective failure of doctors, social workers, police and nursery staff to prevent the death of two year old Keanu Williams, beaten to death by his mother Rebecca Shuttleworth. Rebecca Shuttleworth who grew up in care herself had a chaotic lifestyle. Frequently moving addresses, changing partners and at times homeless, at no time did she provide her son with a home or a cot, belongings or toys. It appears that at the early stages of his life she was given parenting support in Milton Keynes, staying in a mother and baby unit and receiving parenting lessons. However when she moved to a different authority, she seems to have slipped below the radar, until close to Keanu’s death. In a situation like this, where the mother is both abusive and manipulative, and the child is unable to speak for itself and afraid, it is wholly understandable that the social workers feel powerless, and the children become invisible. We all want to believe that the primary care providers of a child, namely its parents, have the child’s best interests at heart, but in some cases, this is sadly not the […]
8th October 2013

What skills do Trustee Boards need today?

Reading an article today that female representation continues to rise in the boardrooms of the UK’s top companies* there was a quote from an executive search consultant working with private sector Boards, who said: “The days of presenting all male candidates have gone. What is becoming more influential is the market expectations for Board composition. This has given us the opportunity to find people who would not have made it on to Boards five years ago; HR, Commercial, Legal and Company Secretaries have all been good sources of talent – we are now free to look more widely for talent.” Trustee boards have been seeking and utilising those kinds of skills in their Trustees for many years. But, just as Board composition is changing in the commercial sector, it is also changing in the charity sector, and I’m not convinced that as a sector we are aware of which skills are increasingly sought after on our Trustee Boards. There are common challenges to developing an effective Board and in securing a skills mix that supports the charity in moving purposefully towards its objectives, but I want to challenge you to think seriously about the following three areas: 1) Modern marketing […]
19th September 2013

When all you can do is reflect

I write this blog while stuck  in ICU being treated for three serious infections brought on by a nasty bug that I somehow caught in the community. My doctor said I was unlucky, the understatement of the year.  It was a harrowing start, but I’m now responding well to treatment and things are on the up. And I’m extremely bored, which can only be a good thing.  What this has done is give me time to reflect on the real world implications of the amazing work done by a number of our clients. Peridot Partners is lucky to work with some of the best universities and research institutes in the world like Oxford, Cambridge and the Institute of Cancer Research. Each day, legions of researchers battle funding constraints and commit themselves to finding cures and treatments for today’s health issues. Before I became a headhunter I worked for many years in higher education fundraising. I never ceased to be inspired by the passionate academics and researchers that I was lucky to work with. These people make real world differences everyday. I am now even more grateful to them. So for everyone who questions why universities should have charitable status, look […]
17th September 2013

Listen to find the solutions

Recently elected to represent my local Patient Participation Group at the Regional Patient Forum I duly attended my first meeting last week and have only just recovered from the shock and awe of the sheer scale of the task ahead for the newly established CCG – and in turn the impending impact on my local health economy. The CCG’s are putting patient feedback and engagement as a central plank to their emergent strategy and it is our role, as much as we are able, to support them in finding different solutions as the tension of growing demand and less money increases its grip.  They want to listen to our views, hear our stories and respond to support the shaping of something new. I realise health and social care faces an unprecedented challenge but they need to carry out cost savings on an eye-watering scale and this means radical change.  A strategy is developing focusing on: prevention; using technology so people can ‘manage their own health’; increasing integration between health and social care and last but not least, harnessing the potential of the third sector. It is this strand that is the one closest to my heart but anecdotally at least […]
10th September 2013

Where do the top charity CEOs come from?

 So what caught my eye in the Civil Society biennial survey of the chief executives of the largest 100 charities? It was not that three quarters earn between £100k and £200k – and that the average salary is £146k when you take out the top few major earners.  And it was not that the average age of a CEO is 55 and male either; we all knew that anyway, right?  I was in fact interested to see that the average CEO has been in the charity sector for over 15 years, and that two years ago the sharp influx of CEOs from the public sector has not been repeated since. Thirteen of the CEOs of the top 100 charities have come from the private sector, but most still come through the charity sector with 15+ years experience and we need to take notice of this when we think about recruitment and succession planning. As head-hunters, with increasing regularity we are asked to find strategic directors with commercial experience to drive income, particularly in the new world of commissioning and complex contracting where the charity sector is competing with the private sector.  Social care is a great example of this.  But […]
28th August 2013

The way we think about charity is dead wrong!

This is the title of an inspiring TED Talk by a chap called Dan Palotta, which currently has 2,300,000 views.  Here are the key messages: There are two rule books in this world; one for the Not-for-Profit sector, the other for the rest of the world.   There are five areas of discrimination:   Salaries for staff are low Advertising for charitable giving can be viewed negatively Risk taking is frowned upon (but it’s OK for Disney to lose $200,000,000 on a film flop) There is no time allowed to invest income to build scale (Amazon are allowed 6 years before making a profit) The NFP sector cannot pay profits to attract capital for new ideas so is starved of growth, risk and ideas capital.   Because of the above the number of non-profits growing into significant multi-million pound organisations is tiny (a percentage of 1 percent) compared with for-profit sectors.   Because of the fixation on the percentage of a donation that goes directly to ‘the cause’ vs ‘overheads’ charities  go without what they need to grow because overheads are not seen as a part of the cause.   Isn’t it better to give money to an enterprise that […]
13th August 2013

Working in the charity sector – is it a vocation or a career?

The row about executive compensation has brought to mind an inspiring lunchtime debate hosted by the Atlanta chapter of the now Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), ‘is fundraising a vocation or a career?’. Bearing in mind that this conversation happened nearly 20 years ago, it clearly made an impression.  There were impassioned pleas, well as impassioned as one could be in a vast ballroom with cold chicken, making the case for both sides. On the vocation side, my former boss and dear friend outlined that we’re not in it for the money, we’re in it to change the world.  Similar to the clergy, we have chosen this profession because of a ‘higher calling’ to change the world. Taking a more pragmatic view, his respondent argued that we are professionals and we just happen to be working for the greater good.  We are business developers, salesmen even, who do the best that we can for our product.  We just happen to practice our craft in the not-for-profit sector at this space in time. So is this argument still pertinent today?  Politicians, donors and the wider public are expressing outrage that charities are paying Chief Executives six figures.  Why?  Well run charities […]
31st July 2013

Women Trustees: Breaking down barriers

In a Peridot Partners poll, a few themes came through that would put our female employees off becoming trustees. One is the perception of boards being male dominated. The women at Peridot would prefer to join charities with the right board dynamics that support diversity and have a wide range of people from different backgrounds, rather than work through an environment that is dominated by male cliques – real or not. The lack of female representation on commercial boards, or even the relative lack of female-to-male leaders in prominent commercial companies (where charities often recruit trustees from), has a negative effect on the pool of talented executives from which to recruit to Trustee Boards. Altering our perception There are so many other factors at play. But let’s focus on one issue that we can all do something about – perception. I met a fabulous 25-year-old excited about her new role in the voluntary sector – she is a future star – and we talked about her becoming a trustee. Her response: “Me?!” The perception is that her contribution would not be valued. But, when pointing out the obvious areas where she could make a significant contribution, it became clear to her. […]