An adult helping a child to read; a person in a wheelchair walking their dog; people gardening; people having a party and an older woman with a plate of cookies


Our Pilotlight Impact Day programme sees teams of skilled business professionals working together to find solutions to a specific operational challenge a selection of charities face in just one day. In August this year we ran our largest ever Pilotlight Impact Day with over 100 Morgan Stanley graduate recruits, supporting six different charity partners with real-life, specific business issues. The goal was to work together on the issue and at the end of the day present the charities with creative and innovative recommendations on how to progress. Morgan Stanley saw the programme as an unique opportunity to both give back and stretch staff through the assignments on the day. Katrina Hayes, Head of Campus Recruitment & Programme Management at Morgan Stanley commented: “Our Analysts can put into practice their problem solving and teamwork skills whilst living out our core value and commitment to giving back to the communities where we live and work.”

Here’s how the teams got on.

The charities and the briefs

The six charity partners selected represent the spectrum of shapes, sizes and causes that we work with: Doorstep Library, Home-Start East Sussex, One Westminster, Services for Independent Living, Stonewall and Wave For Change. There was a range of specific issues for teams to support from community fundraising and trading activities, to digital service delivery and volunteer engagement.

What we did

After an initial introduction to their charity and its brief, the Morgan Stanley Pilotlighters worked in small teams, each focusing on one element. Across the day the Pilotlighters came back together with their Charity Partners to check in on progress, align thinking, test hypotheses and reframe their work. By the end of the day each team presented their recommended set of solutions and next steps specific to their element to the charities.

As you might imagine, there was an awful lot of preparation going on before and during the day itself. Setting up the tech to function properly was one thing but communicating and engaging with that many participants within all the different teams was quite another! And thanks to the cool-headed experience of our Project Managers, the day was a real success for all involved.


By participating on the day, the Morgan Stanley Pilotlighters had the opportunity to enhance their team working skills, working effectively with peers across divisions, and to learn new skills, such as using research to produce meaningful outcomes in the challenging environment, and presenting their work to senior leaders. And for the Charity Partners, they were able to benefit from the invaluable thoughts and opinions of ‘outside eyes’, as well as the expertise and knowledge that the Morgan Stanley Pilotlighters brought to the table.

The outputs the teams presented the charities with, including their recommendations and next steps, included a social media plan, a research piece on the digital divide for service users, a framework for carrying out fundraising amongst the student population, and a business and pricing model for a key programme.

As with all of our programmes, we carried out rigorous evaluation afterwards to understand the impact of the day. We were delighted to see the high levels of satisfaction from both the charity leaders and the Morgan Stanley teams.

The Morgan Stanley Pilotlighters reported a range of personal and professional development outcomes, as well as significant impact on their knowledge and understanding of the third sector:

I enjoyed working with colleagues from other divisions, making networks, learning more about the charity sector and how these organisations function and having direct communication with people who work closely in the sector. Also, I could make a real difference and give input to the organisation.

Morgan Stanley Pilotlighter participant


We also collated the key outputs for each of the six charities involved and will be checking in with them again in six months’ time to explore if and how key recommendations have been implemented.

We now have a basis to continue with our own research using the options that the team presented to us. It has saved us a lot of groundwork sifting through options and research that is out there.

Charity Partner participant


The Morgan Stanley/Pilotlight relationship is a long standing one. Over the last 12 years, the firm has enabled over 300 of its UK employees to support more than 125 UK charities through our various programmes. And we are thrilled that now we can add the Pilotlight Impact Day numbers into the mix. Giving back is a huge part of Morgan Stanley’s global culture and something which we are delighted to continue supporting.