The Skills Collaborative: pro bono professional support for charities in uniquely challenging times

Posted 15 Mar 2021 | Our News | Partnerships

In this uniquely challenging current environment, UK grant partners of the Oak Foundation’s Housing & Homelessness programme can turn to The Skills Collaborative.

We provide pro bono access to services to develop leadership, strengthen organisational resilience, and evaluate impact, all designed to support organisations to deliver their missions and their critical services in the context of unprecedented economic pressures and soaring levels of service demand. Our services are delivered by skilled business and economics professionals: business leaders, management consultants, specialists in finance, comms and HR, mentors, trainers and economists. As a partnership of three specialist providers – Cranfield Trust, Pilotlight and Pro Bono Economics – we are working together to deliver joined-up, flexible and responsive support. This current offer builds on a successful pilot programme which supported 10 charities in 2019 and 2020.

How does it work?

In a nutshell, The Skills Collaborative aims to provide a ‘one stop shop’ with a personalised advisory service: our team will work with you to explore what type of support from our wide-ranging menu of services could be most helpful, depending on your situation and preferences.

  • Organisations interested in taking up any of our support are invited to express interest in The Skills Collaborative, rather than applying directly to a specific provider. The form is designed to be quick to complete. Applications from organisations without a clear idea of what kind of support they need are very welcome.
  • We will then contact you to schedule a discussion. We’ll ask you more about your organisation’s business needs, your time constraints and the type of experience that would suit you or your team. We’ll then talk through a shortlist of support types from our menu of specialised services to explore what might suit you best. We may ask for further information about your organisation.
  • We’ll connect you with the provider that offers the support that suits you best.
  • We aim to be flexible and needs-led. We envisage that some organisations may benefit from more than one piece of support, either immediately or at a later date within this 2021/2022 offer.

What support is available?

Our services fall into three key areas: impact evaluation, leadership development and organisational resilience – see below for examples. Formats vary from one-off training events to regular engagements and intensive projects that span several months. Delivery models vary from highly participatory to more expert-intensive, but all require the grantee organisation to devote some time to get the most out of the support.

1. Impact evaluation

  • Introductory workshops on impact measurement
  • Economic evaluation of impact, e.g. to enable you to make statements such as ‘for every £1 invested in our work, we generate £x of benefits to society’
  • Economic analysis of the cost of an issue, often for advocacy purposes e.g ‘failure to support children exposed to domestic violence in the UK could cost taxpayers up to £1.4 billion’
  • Data analysis and visualisation

2. Leadership development

  • Mentoring
  • Peer to peer support: groups of charity leaders meet to share challenges and insights
  • Holistic coaching programme

3. Organisational resilience

  • Management consultancy
  • Strategic and business planning
  • Financial management
  • Scenario-planning
  • Generating organisational efficiencies and effectiveness
  • HR
  • Marcomms

A full overview of The Skills Collaborative Menu of Services is available here.

Key dates

  1. Following Launch Event (16th March): Expression of Interest form opens. There is no deadline.
  2. 19th April 2021: We will begin to review Expressions of Interest. We expect to continue to review Expressions of Interest while we deliver support in 2021 and 2022.

What do charities say about the offer?

For further information

Please email the Skills Collaborative partnership manager, Jessica Harneyford, on Jessica.harneyford@probonoeconomics.com

About our partners

Cranfield Trust is the UK’s leading provider of pro bono management support for the voluntary sector.

Pro Bono Economics uses economics to support the social sector and to increase wellbeing across the UK. It combines project work for individual not-for-profits and social enterprises with policy research that can drive systemic change.

Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, India and North America, we make grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.