What we do
Pilotlight enables small, ambitious charities and social enterprises to help a greater number of people, more effectively. We have a significant impact on people’s lives, from children with learning disabilities, to isolated older people. We are currently helping 75 charities who tackle issues such as crime, drug abuse and homelessness.
We match and manage teams of senior business people, ‘Pilotlighters’, with local charities and social enterprises that are tackling social disadvantage in the UK. The teams coach the charities through the process of planning for growth, development and sustainability.
Pilotlight encourages senior business people to volunteer their time in a way that uses their professional skills in just three hours a month. Our Pilotlighters benefit from testing their talents in a new and challenging context, networking with peers in other industries and disciplines and learning new skills and approaches which they can bring back to their organisations.
Pilotlight manages the interaction between the charities and the professionals throughout the relationship. Other volunteering relationships match rather than manage skills. This brokerage frees both sides to concentrate on sharing their skills effectively. Pilotlight creates teams of four senior executives (all from different organisations and with a mix of skills) and matches the team with the needs of a partner charity or social enterprise.
Pilotlight project managers facilitate meetings every four to six weeks, steering the team through Pilotlight’s tried and tested process in the development of a strategic plan. Individual and corporate Pilotlighters contribute their time over an average period of 12 to 18 months. They also make a financial contribution towards our costs. Pilotlight is a charity itself, and relies on contributions to provide our service free to other charities.
We believe that:
- By bringing together the passion and expertise of the voluntary sector with the best of business thinking, we can help to create more effective and sustainable organisations.
- The most successful collaborations between the private and voluntary sectors are grounded in mutual respect and recognition of the skills and expertise represented by each sector.
- Small charities and social enterprises are best placed to find innovative and effective solutions to the changing needs of the disadvantaged in society and their knowledge and commitment should be nurtured and supported.
- Systematic evaluation is central to achieving excellence and enables small charities to compete in an increasingly challenging environment.
- One of the primary objectives of any small community or voluntary organisation should be to make themselves sustainable, so they can continue to help beneficiaries as long as their services are needed.
Pilotlight is able to demonstrate a real and measurable benefit to society at grassroots level. The results of the Pilotlight process are evaluated and quantified. Since 2003, Pilotlight has brokered the equivalent of £7.27 million in business skills and cultivated the talents of over 320 senior business leaders. The charities we currently support improve the lives of more than 3.3 million people.
Thanks to their improved skills, confidence and focus, Pilotlight partner charities and social enterprises increase their income by 50 percent on average within two years – more than three times the rate of the voluntary sector as a whole.
We feel more confident in what we're doing... Where we are now compared to where we were has been down to Pilotlight. Our increased income has allowed us to expand our resources and employ more people."
Will Jones, development director, brainstrust
This increase in funding allows charities to take on more staff and provide crucial support to 107 percent more people on average within two years of working with Pilotlight.
- Maytree provides a short-term sanctuary for people experiencing a suicidal crisis. Independent medical research found “a clear need for more centres based on the Maytree model”. Since working with Pilotlight on strategic planning, Maytree has been able to raise more funds, consolidate its staffing and provide support to 50 percent more people each month.
In the last seven years we have worked with over 300 charities and expanded from London to cover England, Scotland and Wales.
- brainstrust provides funding for the support and treatment of those diagnosed with primary brain cancer and their families. Six months after the end of its Pilotlight engagement, brainstrust is reaping the benefits. The charity has seen an eight per cent increase in gross income, while unrestricted income is 30 per cent higher. The number of people they are helping has doubled. "We have a business plan that we’re very happy and comfortable with and our trustees and staff are fully engaged with our plan," says development director Will Jones.
The Pilotlight model is effective and costs the taxpayer nothing. We want to use it with more charities to make sure they become sustainable and thus reach more people who need support.
- The 999 Club, in Lewisham, provides help, support and friendship to vulnerable people such as the homeless, those with mental health issues and ex-offenders. Director, Robert Block says: “We existed off pure energy and charisma, as charities often do for periods. The business planning work and the skills we have developed with Pilotlight have introduced an essential element to the organisation to ensure its sustainability. Our clients now have the real prospect of uninterrupted service for years to come.”
Click here if you would like your charity to experience the benefits of working with Pilotlight.
Even if someone offered me £80,000, I would still go for my team of Pilotlighters!"
Celine Sinclair, CEO, The Yard, Edinburgh
The business people who volunteer to become 'Pilotlighters' also benefit
"It gives me insight into the real world. In the City we can end up living in ivory towers, so this work grounds me, it brings me back to see what real life is about and this has had an impact both on the way I work and the person I am.' Mark Dearlove, Managing Director and Head of Global Liquidity, Barclays
The results of our Pilotlight Evaluation Report 2011 reveal:
- 84 per cent of our business members think Pilotlight developed their coaching and mentoring skills
- 96 per cent developed their readiness to see things from different perspectives
- networking was mentioned by 76 per cent of respondents who said they made useful contacts through Pilotlight, while 73 per cent felt happier or more fulfilled in their professional work
- 87 per cent said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied with their Pilotlight membership
Please click here to find out how you can become a Pilotlighter and make a significant difference in your local community.
Click here to read more about our recent successes.