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For Charities

We know. Charities and social enterprises like yours work tirelessly to tackle disadvantage, and you and your team put heart and soul into your cause. But, with competing pressures and opportunities, sometimes it’s difficult to know which direction to take. 

That’s where we come in. Our programmes see empathetic business experts share their expertise with charities, bringing new perspectives, diverse skills and vast experience to bear on the challenges they’re facing. Since 1996, we’ve helped more than 1,000 charities to amplify their impact, reach more people and contribute to a better world. We’ve seen it all, and we know how to make an intervention work.

This is no one-size-fits-all solution. We have a range of programmes depending on the type of organisation you are and the situation you find yourself in, and within each programme your dedicated team of mentors - we call them Pilotlighters - and our experienced staff make sure that you have focused, individualised support.

Our support is free of charge to charities and social enterprises.

We are currently open for applications to our programmes. Take a look at the deadlines to apply here.

Our programmes

Pilotlight 360

Our most comprehensive programme. Over a 10 month period, four of our most senior and experienced Pilotlighters coach a charity leader and their board through the strategic challenges they face.

Pilotlight Direction

A programme that explores a specific strategic opportunity. Over eight weeks, six Pilotlighters assess its viability and establish how it can be reached.

Pilotlight Insight

A programme that provides insight on a specific business challenge. Over ten weeks, six Pilotlighters apply their analytical skills and expertise to explore an issue in depth and recommend solutions.

Pilotlight Impact Day

A one-day event designed to explore innovative and practical solutions to a specific operational challenge. Multiple teams of Pilotlighters apply their knowledge and experience to create ideas and impact.

Brain Trust

Our latest initiative with our long-standing partner Barclays, distils the essence of our strategic development programmes into a single, 90-minute meeting to unlock fresh thinking on a strategic challenge. 

Inclusive Leadership

A charity led by and/or supporting people from underrepresented communities, works with up to six Barclays Pilotlighters over ten weeks to assess an operational challenge and explore ways forward.

The Weston Charity Awards

Created in partnership with the Garfield Weston Foundation and Pilotlight, the Weston Charity Awards celebrate and support ambitious front-line charities working in the fields of Community, Environment, Welfare and Youth.

The Awards offer a package of support worth over £22,000 to up to 22 charities. Supporting small charities to thrive and not just survive, the Awards helps charities to plan for sustainability, development and growth over ten months.

If you lead a charity based in the North or Midlands of England, or Wales, you could be eligible to apply.

Applications are now closed for the 2024 cohort.

The Weston Charity Awards

Our Impact

88% of charity leaders report an increase in their leadership skills after working with us.
Six months after working with us, 92% of charity leaders reported Pilotlight 360 has had a major positive impact on their strategic vision.
↑ 48%
Two years after working with us, charities who have participated in Pilotlight 360 have, on average, increased their income by 48%.

Apply now

If you are an ambitious charity based in the UK, we can help you reach the next level. Take a look at our eligibility criteria and how to apply for support. Need to know more? Read the experiences of other charities just like yours below or scroll down and download our brochure.

Person in swing

From the outset I remember thinking, 'What will make the Pilotlighters the right people to provide support? What are they going to be like?' I was hoping for an analytical, outside perspective, and that's what I got. I felt from the first meeting that everyone was on the same page.

Stephen Elsden
CEO - Compaid

Having only become the CEO of The Felix Project relatively recently, it's been invaluable to receive this input on a challenge the charity is currently facing. I am very grateful for the recommendations we have been given from the Morgan Stanley Pilotlighters.

Mark Curtin
CEO - The Felix Project

Pilotlight 360 was invaluable for me as a leader. Not only do I now have a five-year business plan, a new mission, social objectives, business objectives and narrative, I'm more confident in my role.

Simone Spray
Chief Executive - 42nd Street

Taking part in the Pilotlight Insight was incredibly useful for MumsAid. The Pilotlighters were really committed to ensure we had useful and useable outcomes. Thank you!

Miriam Donaghy
CEO - MumsAid

The input we have received from the Pilotlighters has been invaluable. It's helped guide our thinking at such a critical time for Volunteer It Yourself.

Tim Reading
CEO - Volunteer It Yourself

The process was very useful for me. I was led to question my assumptions around different possibilities for our future.

Helen Carlin
CEO & Founder - Rowan Alba

We now have the tools to create real growth which is so exciting.

Elaine Cook
CEO - Devon Communities Together

Need more information?

Case Studies

Setting a robust future for Just Psychology

8 July 2024

Just Psychology’s Company Director Dr Iyabo Fatimilehin, came to Inclusive Leadership, a programme we run in partnership with Barclays, for support on how to create a sustainable business plan for growth. 

Ensuring sustainability for Hijinx

20 June 2024

Hijinx is a theatre company pioneering, producing and promoting opportunities for actors with learning disabilities and/or autism productions across Wales.

Renewed support for Croydon Mencap

21 February 2024

Croydon Mencap supports parent carers of children and young people with any disability aged 0-25 and adults with a learning disability and their parents, carers and families. Services can range from support with mental health, loneliness, isolation and around the barrier that they face when trying to get into work.

Finding the balance for Nepacs

11 January 2024

Amanda Lacey, CEO of Nepacs reflects on the impact winning the Weston Charity Awards and Pilotlight 360 has had on the charity’s strategy going forwards.

SELFA's seven-year triumph

23 November 2023

In 2016 SELFA Children's Charity were recipients of a Weston Charity Award, which not only supported the organisation with a core grant of £6,500 from the Garfield Weston Foundation, but also began a period of transformation through the Pilotlight 360 programme.

Soaring high for Eagle’s Nest Project

13 November 2023

Eagle’s Nest Project is a charity set up to work with young people aged 11-18 that are struggling to engage in mainstream education, often as a result of early childhood trauma. It offers alternative education solutions that build confidence and to equip them for more positive engagement in education and society moving forwards.

Helping SNAPS engage a broad range of new corporate supporters

21 July 2023

"From a personal perspective and also the team’s perspective, to be able to go back and have full confidence in our plans to grow corporate support, following feedback from the Pilotlighters, allowed for a stronger pitch to recruit the additional team member required."

Giving Survivors Manchester a fresh perspective

21 June 2023

"We were blown away by the enthusiasm of the Pilotlighters as they worked up solutions to the brief we set them. We heard plenty of fresh perspectives and we had some of our own thinking challenged in a supportive setting. I now have concrete next steps and new ideas to work through with my team."

Helping One Roof Leicester get a clear direction

24 October 2022

"The Weston Charity Awards has helped us to rewrite our strategic plan. We've now got a new vision and mission and a very clear idea of what our journey is going to be over the next five years. It's provided a lot of clarity to everybody on the team."

Helping Hijinx to work out where to go next

24 October 2022

"It can feel quite tumultuous to start with because you're taking everything apart, but actually, there is that lightbulb moment where it all seems to coalesce and start to make sense. So yeah. Keep the faith. It's worth it."

Focusing Imara on the future

8 August 2022

“The Pilotlighters were such a friendly, interested, knowledgeable and generous bunch of people, who gave time and thought to Imara and were genuinely interested in hearing more about our service."

Helping Protect develop its services

21 July 2022

“Our Pilotlighters gave us a number of things to consider across different areas of the project, based on their experience. They helped us think about possible routes to market, and were particularly helpful in ensuring we maximised the commercial potential.”

Supporting CAP UK to think about its funding

20 July 2022

"The whole process was very well organised and supported. Having access to a wealth of experience, although not directly linked to the charity sector, allowed outside-of-the-box thinking in a condensed short time, we all agreed that this was a very useful exercise."

Enabling Advice Services Alliance to become sustainable

19 July 2022

Via the Pilotlight Direction programme, Lindsey and her team were matched with five Barclays Pilotlighters, who were tasked with the challenge: How does Advice Services Alliance (ASA) best scale it’s impact and establish a sustainable income stream?

Understanding how to grow The Conservation Collective

18 July 2022

At the end of the programme, the Pilotlighters presented Jade and Ben with a variety of considerations and recommendations for different growth models. This included a risk framework, financial growth model tool and suggestions for standardised governance documents.

Growing support for carers both locally and nationally

Kathy Verges | 28 June 2022

When we worked with Kathy Verges in 2010, she was CEO at Crossroads Care Havering, which had a turnover of around £600k. Kathy retired as Chief Officer in January 2022. After a series of mergers Kathy led the charity on to re-brand to create TuVida, which had national reach and a turnover of £14m. She reflects on her work with Pilotlight.

Securing a vibrant future for South Asian Arts-uk

27 June 2022

“This programme gave me the license to set some time aside and focus, I’m not sure if I would’ve done so otherwise. I’ve come to realise we have the seedling now and it’s time to figure out how big a pot we now need to repot it in.”

Aiding KeyRing diversify its income

20 September 2021

"We had a fantastic experience. The Pilotlighters were engaged, collaborative, and inspirationally challenging. The outputs were of high quality and of immediate help to us."

Empowering The Super Power Agency to grow

15 September 2021

"The Pilotlight 360 programme was great in helping us focus more on what we wanted, and the extra brains to help us think through our plans were immensely helpful. If you need help thinking through a strategy, programme or course of action, the Pilotlight 360 programme is for you."

Growing TLC Talk Listen Change into a regional charity

19 July 2021

TLC: Talk, Listen, Change came to Pilotlight in 2019 with ambitions and plans for the future. After completing the Pilotlight 360, the organisation has grown quicker than originally anticipated and the CEO, Michelle Hill, credits some of that to the power of Pilotlight.

Setting Directions

8 July 2021

"I was really impressed with the whole process - a lot was achieved in a relatively short space of time."

Freeing up deadlock for Croydon Mencap

28 June 2021

"Pilotlight gave us the tools to use the considerable experience of the Board to ask the required questions, which ended up freeing a deadlock that had held the charity back."

Making a difference to six charities in just one day

Caroline Fry | 11 November 2020

"I enjoyed working with colleagues from other divisions, making networks, learning more about the charity sector and how charities 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 charity."

Giving Active Fusion a clearer direction

21 October 2020

"The support from the Pilotlighters has given Active Fusion a clearer direction and has helped the charity secure funding from Doncaster Local Authority, Sport England, Awards for All and Children in Need."

Refreshing Compaid's governance structure

18 November 2019

"From the outset I remember thinking, “What will make the Pilotlighters the right people to provide support? What are they going to be like?” I was hoping for an analytical, outside perspective, and that’s what I got. I felt from the first meeting that everyone was on the same page."

Putting RHLT on the right path

20 August 2019

"I was a fairly new CEO in 2014, and we approached Pilotlight because we needed to update our business plan, modernise the organisation and consider having a high street presence."

Creating a sustainable future for Create Paisley

1 August 2019

"Pilotlight Impact Day was a great opportunity to explore how to take some of our current challenges forward. We really appreciated the approach of the three teams and are looking forward to building upon these projects and the learning from the day."

Setting a robust future for The Child Outcomes Research Consortium

26 June 2019

The Child Outcomes Research Consortium (CORC) is a charitable organisation that collects and uses evidence to improve children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. CORC holds data relating to mental health and wellbeing outcomes of more than 400,000 children and young people in the UK, representing the largest data set of this kind worldwide

Supporting Pyramid to think big

13 March 2019

Through Pilotlight 360, Pyramid has a new, much more ambitious strategic plan in place, including a series of metrics which the board can use in order to ensure Pyramid is meeting its objectives.

Supporting TDAS to become more resilient

20 November 2018

Trafford Domestic Abuse Services (TDAS) supports individuals and families who are affected by domestic abuse. It supports both female and male victims who live or work in the Trafford area. It also provides intervention and prevention services, and works in partnership with other voluntary organisations to support families across Greater Manchester.

Supporting Jericho Foundation to optimise its social enterprises

19 October 2018

"Overall, Pilotlight has helped us transform our corporate offer, our social impact reporting, and our human resources processes and management. These were key things we needed to address, but we just didn’t have the knowhow to work them out on our own. The work we’ve done will benefit our organisation and those we serve for many years to come."

Helping Castlehaven Community Association generate its own income

15 October 2018

"It’s all been very exciting, and it's all happened because of the Pilotlight 360 and the follow on support from the Pilotlight Direction programme a couple of years later. As you can see the projects have proved to have had a phenomenal impact on the charity both in terms of governance and aspiration. Pilotlight has given CCA a future!"

Helping Just Lincolnshire find its focus

30 August 2018

Just Lincolnshire’s vision is for Lincolnshire to be a place where everyone is valued and discrimination is eliminated. It works with a wide range of partners, schools, disability forums and local community organisations to deliver workshops around hate crime and promote equality and fairness across Lincolnshire. It also supports groups to embed best practice through training Ambassadors and Equality Champions.

Encouraging Glasgow ESOL Forum to take a different approach

11 July 2018

Glasgow ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Forum reaches out to marginalised communities across Glasgow helping to support integration, employability and personal development to primarily refugees, asylum seekers and individuals where their first language is not English.

Supporting Spectra to clarify its overarching strategy

19 March 2018

Spectra is a social enterprise that promotes sexual health, particularly among the LGBTQ+ community. It shares information on healthcare and safe sex, runs HIV and STI tests and provides condoms. Spectra also supports the Trans community through counselling and social groups.

Enabling Devon Communities Together to create real growth

23 February 2018

Devon Communities Together (DCT) is the operating name of The Community Council of Devon, an independent charitable company founded in 1961, and part of a national network of Rural Community Councils. DCT is a community development organisation that helps communities help themselves by providing advice and information, and supporting projects throughout Devon.

Creating a sustainable approach for People and Work

14 December 2017

“Working with Pilotlight gave us the opportunity to think about where we were going as an organisation and how we might get there. We used the process to have discussions across the organisation which has then shaped a programme of action and change for People and Work over the last two years since the project.”

Strengthening process for The Ecology Centre

6 November 2017

"The decision making matrix tool we co-created during the engagement has been of great value to The Ecology Centre since, strengthening the processes we go through when commissioning new project work".

Exploring how Malvern Special Families could develop

3 October 2017

“Working with Pilotlight has made a real difference to the governance of Malvern Special Families. We have been challenged to review the way we were working and now we are thinking more strategically and the board is working together more professionally and effectively."

Setting a focused vision for the future for SELFA

3 October 2017

"This time last year we weren't winning funding bids, and I couldn't work out why. Now I know why. We can go into a meeting and say who we are and where we're going. And now we're winning bids, and being approached to apply for bids. I don’t think in my whole career I’ve had a year like this – it’s been a transformational process for me.”

Guiding Active Change Foundation to streamline

12 July 2017

"Organisational change is not easy or comfortable. We felt the safe space created at the meetings allowed us to be completely frank and honest about what we were thinking, the challenges we faced and the reality of our financial situation."

Helping Balloons develop its strategy

1 June 2017

Balloons is a landmark charity based in Devon, which provides support to help children and young people come to terms with bereavement and loss.

Putting Murton Trust in a stronger position

19 May 2017

"At the start of the process our organisation wanted a three-year strategy but were not in the position to create one. Pilotlight provided structure and perspective that allowed us to come together to ensure that our final document was one that everyone could follow and get behind. Creating a clear vision, with open and frank discussion was absolutely key to this."

Nurturing Reaching Higher clarify its model

14 June 2016

Since refining the charity’s focus as part of Pilotlight 360, Reaching Higher has seen engagement from volunteers and funders increase, resulting in better staffed and better funded projects. 

Getting a clear vision for Pontyprid YMCA

6 July 2015

"At first, the meetings were a bit scary but the Pilotlight team were absolutely brilliant. They were very supportive and it was much more fun than I was expecting! We all got to know each other really well.”

Creating a stronger financial future for Brittle Bone Society

30 June 2014

The Brittle Bone Society (BBS) is the only UK charity supporting people with the rare bone condition osteogenesis imperfecta (OI). As well as offering a free, confidential support service and signposting help on issues such as genetics, education, work and travel, the charity also fundraises for specialised wheelchairs that aren’t available on the NHS and can cost up to £16,000.

Securing a long-term future for LinkAble

2 January 2014

“The Pilotlight process can mean the difference between not only survival but building on your charity business in the most challenging economic conditions we have ever seen. It has secured our future.”

Giving CAIR Scotland greater clarity

2 January 2014

“The organisation had grown steadily and we were at the point where we had to decide whether to stay the same size or look at delivering services elsewhere in Scotland.”

Tightening up internal processes for MECOPP

2 January 2014

“The thing that really impressed me was how extraordinarily helpful my Pilotlighters were. They come from a different sector with a fresh pair of eyes to ask the questions that needed to be asked. I wouldn’t have swapped the experience for the world.”

Exploring expansion for Safe and Sound Derby

3 May 2013

Safe and Sound Derby helps to protect young people from sexual exploitation. Set up in 2002, the charity provides support on a one-to-one or small group basis to young people who have been sexually exploited or are at risk.

Coaching Revive to set its vision for the future

6 March 2013

“The primary aim was to have a sustainable strategic policy in place. We realised that we needed an assessment of what we actually offered and have that defined; the by-product of that should be to open up more funding streams.”

Fine-tuning Swansea YMCA's direction

4 February 2013

"Our plans will make a real difference to the lives of young people in Swansea and the wider community and at the end of the day that’s why we are here.”

Aiding Rowan Tree Cancer Care to increase income

17 December 2012

“The Pilotlighters then advised us on how we could generate extra income from the building. It has a spa and hydrotherapy pool, so we now host well-being days for companies to treat their staff to pamper sessions and we hire out our rooms for meetings.”

Supporting Arts Factory to better articulate its purpose

17 December 2012

“They helped us sharpen our message to tell people quickly and concisely what we are and what we are trying to achieve. They also helped us to focus down a bit: we probably had too many projects in too many stages of development. They encouraged us to concentrate on areas that were less speculative, rather than spreading ourselves too thinly.”

Enabling New Choices for Youth to streamline

17 December 2012

New Choices for Youth (NCY) has over 25 years’ experience working with children and young people in crisis. Based in Plaistow, east London, it has a 10-bed residential centre for children leaving local authority care. It runs youth clubs, workshops for teenage parents and provides volunteering opportunities for young people not in education, employment or training.

Encourging Baillieston Community Care to get more strategic

17 December 2012

Baillieston Community Care has been providing two dementia support services in Glasgow for over 20 years. Funded by Glasgow City Council, the home support service and day care centre, Bealach House, are a lifeline to people with dementia and their families.

Supporting Empowering Action and Social Esteem (EASE) to manage change

1 April 2012

EASE (Empowering Action and Social Esteem) was set up in 2001 by Jackie Sear when she moved to the Copley Close Estate in west London. As a youth worker in the community, Jackie saw issues such as anti-social behaviour, violence and racial harassment that were not being dealt with and founded the charity to try and address them.

Coaching Rosemount Lifelong Learning to increase its sustainability

27 March 2012

Rosemount Lifelong Learning (RLL) grew out of a parents’ group started by Save the Children in 1978. When Save the Children pulled out 20 years later, a new charitable company was formed. RLL aims to combat poverty, reduce deprivation, promote learning and aid recovery from homelessness, trauma and addictions by providing vocational courses for women, adult education and childcare. Last year the charity supported 954 clients.

Coaching The Parent House to think commercially

27 March 2012

The Parent House opened 12 years ago. It is based in the old schoolkeeper's house at Winton Primary School near King's Cross, London and was originally set up by parents and carers whose children attended the school. It now offers a range of learning and support for parents and carers from the local community and runs a free registered crèche for learners' children.

Enabling Suffolk Artlink to get strategic

27 March 2012

Suffolk Artlink improves the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex through the provision of creative arts activities. Last year, the charity worked with almost 3,000 individuals, including children, carers, people with learning disabilities, older people and carers.

Giving Edinburgh City Youth Cafe 6VT a clear direction

8 March 2012

“The Pilotlighters made us think about what we were good at, so that we applied for funding that we had a better chance of getting, rather than chasing money that was available but didn’t line up with our core values. This gave us a clear direction."

Helping Factory Skatepark think strategically

8 March 2012

"One suggestion from the Pilotlighters was to change my title from operations manager to chief executive. They said that would drive what I was meant to be about and that I should be working at a strategic level."

Supporting braintrust to increase its income

1 March 2012

Aged 19, Meg Jones was about to begin university when her life was turned upside down. She was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour and her family was shocked to find there was little coordinated support available

Guiding Epic Arts to develop a clear strategy

28 March 2011

Epic Arts is a London-based arts charity established in 2001. It organises and runs visual art, drama, dance and music projects for people with disabilities in the UK and Cambodia.

Supporting KPC to develop a business plan

3 March 2010

Helena Parboij set up KPC Youth in 1998, following the tragic drugs-related death of her 18-year-old son. She gathered together a group of local people who wanted to address the problem of lack of facilities for young people in the Cynffig area of Bridgend.

Helping The Yard maximise income generation opportunities

22 September 2009

"Even if it was £80,000 I would still go for my team of Pilotlighters! Pilotlighters provide a superb sounding board and I can't recommend the scheme too highly. They give you a lot of confidence and help to create a balance between operational demands and the need for strategic development." - Celine Sinclair, The Yard, Edinburgh

Enabling UNLOCK to refine its vision

7 September 2007

“The process gave us a single vision for the first time, with short- and long-term objectives and who was accountable for them.”

Enabling Ashiana to plan a new refuge

23 July 2007

“It was the first time someone not involved in the charity looked at how we worked….they challenged us to think outside the box. We’ve now secured funding for the next three years.”