Motivate and engage your charity’s assets in a post pandemic world

Published by Susan Robinson on 5 August 2021

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The staff and volunteers at charities are one of their greatest assets. They go the extra mile without being asked and at times of adversity (which we have seen a lot of recently) they are there with a smile to help the beneficiaries.  

Several charities I have spoken to recently have talked about how they have re-looked at their offering and how they deliver their services.  

This has led to a restructuring of staff and unfortunately in some cases a number of redundancies. But the comment that sticks in my mind is how their managers have stepped up and taken responsibility, not only for their service delivery but also for their sector budget.  

Engaging staff in the budgeting process and subsequent reporting of actuals or results is key to ensuring efficiency. It gives them ownership and empowerment. When we (trustees) look for different ways to use limited resources, our charity teams often have good ideas, but do we ask them and if we do, do we really listen to their response? 

The pandemic has shown charities are not an island and more have collaborated with each other over the last 15 months. Charities also need to collaborate more internally. There are simple tools that can be adopted such as a suggestion box, which can be anonymous. Small group discussions are also an easy tool. I suggest small groups as this increases participation, but be careful of the dynamics, you don’t want one person dominating the proceedings.   

Now is a good time to table in some meeting times, perhaps those you have been putting off because you know they will be difficult. Don’t take it personally if someone criticises how you have dealt with matters over this period. There is still a lot of pent-up emotion which needs to come out and once the air is cleared some positive ideas will lead to a brighter future.   

The pandemic caught many people off guard and what we have all been through is unusual and there was no manual to follow. Accept that not everything was necessarily done well with hindsight, but also acknowledge and celebrate that you survived this period and have still delivered a somewhat varied service.   

Pent-up emotions leads me to my final point.  As trustees we have a duty to safeguard the charities assets. As I stated earlier, staff and volunteers are our greatest asset and they need to be safeguarded. Wellbeing of people has very much come to the fore and it is important to put in place some programmes to help staff and volunteers return to the charity if they have been away. Don’t forget just saying thank you and taking time to check in with staff and volunteers demonstrates your support for them. And as the goodwill from the lockdown spirit wanes, people will want to feel valued and supported more, especially those who are weary from all of the additional work they may have taken on.   

Group events (with appropriate safeguards) provide bonding opportunities; an informal barbeque for example and hopefully the weather will improve! There is one group of staff that need particular support – the CEO and senior management teams who have worked incredibly hard in very difficult circumstances. They have and still are looking after their staff and volunteers, make sure they are also being looked after.  

Staff and volunteers have got charities through the last 15 months, help them get through the next period. Beneficiaries need them and so do we trustees.

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