Small Charity Week amplifies, supports and connects small charities across the UK. We’re proud to partner with small charities to find leaders who are inspiring, authentic and forward-thinking.

We spoke to Tom Fyans, CEO of the London Cycling Campaign, which works across London to make cycling safer and more enjoyable for everyone. Their team bring a wide range of experience and expertise, from borough street campaigning to Europe-wide policy change. Operating with a small team of 21 people, LCC helps activists and members with campaigning advice, tools and resources and works with organisations supporting people to cycle, from multinational employers to community networks.

Tom has enjoyed an enriching career as a senior leader in various membership-based organisations, specialising in campaigns and policy. Before joining the London Cycling Campaign in 2023, Tom was the Deputy CEO at CPRE, the countryside charity, and he holds an MBA from the Open University, which he credits for developing his broad skillset for his first permanent CEO role.

How does your charity collaborate with other local organisations or businesses to strengthen community ties?

We have local groups in every London borough and help activists and LCC members with campaigning advice, tools and resources to help them engage with local communities who want to cycle more or get better cycling infrastructure in their area.

We also work with organisations supporting people to cycle, from multinational employers to community networks.

Can you share an example of a creative solution or program your charity has implemented to address a community need or overcome a challenge?

A common barrier to cycling in many communities is a lack of confidence.

We developed our Cycle Buddies programme — a new, free service. It connects new cyclists with people who already cycle regularly so they can meet up, get started, and build confidence in cycling. We have ‘buddies’ all over London, from different backgrounds, all willing to help people in many different ways. We now have over 700 participants and it’s growing every month.

How do you ensure your charity remains financially sustainable, especially during economic downturns or fundraising challenges?

As a small charity reliant mainly on the generous support of our members, fundraising can be tough.

We’ve diversified our fundraising strategy to include more high-value giving, from trusts and foundations and major donors. We also look to create strategic partnerships with corporates that broadly share our mission and who help get Londoners cycling. But our loyal and generous individual and family members remain the bedrock of our financial stability.

“No two days are the same, which is exciting, challenging and rewarding, all at once.”

What are your hopes and aspirations for the future of your charity and the communities you serve?

London loves cycling and record numbers of people are riding.

But not everyone has the same opportunity. Our new strategy focuses not only on getting more people cycling, but also on making cyclists more diverse, inclusive, and representative of all Londoners. This means building more partnerships at a community and grassroots level and working to overcome ingrained cultural, social and economic barriers, as well as practical ones like the lack of cycling infrastructure.

Our aim is to support a diverse and vibrant cycling culture that will make London a world-class cycling city.

What are the most important lessons you have learned from your experience as a CEO of a small charity?

I think the most important thing I’ve learned so far is how crucial a shared purpose and vision is, around which you can then build an ambitious growth strategy that gets people motivated. People have got to see that another, better world is possible, as well as the nuts and bolts of how you plan to get there.

It’s also surprised me how entrepreneurial the role of a CEO in a small charity is — you need lots of energy and new ideas, alongside a willingness to try new things and support others to take a few risks to succeed.

No two days are the same, which is exciting, challenging and rewarding, all at once.

Would you like to share any final thoughts?

As a first-time CEO, it has been very rewarding to develop my relationship with a new board of trustees and work in partnership with the Chair.

It’s essential that everyone understands their role and responsibilities, and in my first six months, a lot of that has focused on risk management. Managing risks may not immediately sound like the most motivating topic, but it helps you get to know the charity quickly and what really matters. It’s also been a very inclusive process as trustees have engaged in different areas very productively with different skills and experiences.

Bill Yuksel is our Head of Not for Profit Appointments, having recruited over 35 CEOs across England, Wales and Scotland. With a true passion for social change and a drive to match motivated candidates with organisations where they can make a difference, please email Bill or connect with him on Linkedin to find the leaders you need for your community foundation.