Pilotlight – our recommitment of purpose

Ed Mayo | 29 November 2021


Everyone knows that you can give money to charities. We have proved emphatically that you can also give your skills to charity. In terms of achieving impact over time, it is one of the most effective ways that you can help. We exist to amplify the impact that charities, businesses and individuals can bring to the world.

Our track record dates back to 1996. In the same year a free email service called Hotmail began and the Spice Girls released their debut single, Pilotlight was born. Our founder, the celebrated social entrepreneur Jane Tewson CBE, had already set up Comic Relief to bring in new money to the charity sector. She founded Pilotlight, in her words, to bring in new skills.

We are excited to celebrate a milestone for impact alongside our 25th birthday. Pilotlight has now helped a total of 1,000 frontline charities, some a number of times but years apart, who collectively support around 12 million service users across the UK.

With the skills and insights of 3,000 business experts, who we affectionately call our Pilotlighters, these charities have increased their income, reached more people and, critically, changed the lives of so many disadvantaged people for the better.

This year, we were acclaimed as one of the top five social enterprises in the UK in terms of our impact, in the NatWest Social Enterprise Index.

We’d like to thank everyone who’s come with us on this journey so far, but we know there’s so much more that we can do.

Business, charity, individuals - we all want to do some good and here is our offer. Pilotlight is here to help you do more for your world.

To make this simpler and broaden our reach, we are using our birthday to refresh our brand – with thanks for the pro bono and specialist support from trustees and our design agency lukecharles – and to relaunch our website. We have built on so much feedback and advice from those we work with and I hope you find it all works for you

In line with our founding goals, we are also making a recommitment to our core purpose, to help those we work with do more for their world.

We bring charities together with business and business experts who can tackle the pressing issues charities are facing. We do it by managing the relationship between business and charities to maximise the impact they bring. We do it by helping individuals apply their expertise to those who need it, and to grow their own skills as part of a team of advisors.

Our dual commitment is to make it easier for people with professional skills to offer those skills for the public good (‘pro bono’ – for good) and to make it easier for charities and social enterprises to access the skills that they need in order to flourish.

We are proud to partner with many of the UK’s leading businesses including Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Lendlease, Sodexo, VirginMediaO2, Blackrock and Associated British Foods. These socially conscious employers work with us to amplify their impact in the world by exposing their talent to new situations and challenges.

This is a key time. Local charities will be at the forefront of our recovery as a nation. It’s essential they gain the right support, tailored to their needs, to help them build capacity and confidently orientate the road ahead. Our teams of business experts, our Pilotlighters, are that friendly, experienced shoulder to lean on; that patient support tailored to the obstacles each leader faces; they will make it less lonely at the top.

As a first step, we are launching a new chapter of support in the post-pandemic context in partnership with the wonderful Garfield Weston Foundation – the 2022 Weston Charity Awards.

This is an open offer to small local charities to apply for the essential capacity building support that we can provide through our network of Pilotlighters and business partners.

The Weston Charity Awards 2022 is offering 20 charities in the North and Midlands of England, and Wales, a package of support to help their leaders through the obstacles they’re now facing, alongside an unrestricted grant of £6,500. Charities have until 7th January to apply.

As Philippa Charles, Director at Garfield Weston Foundation says:

“Now more than ever, charities are seeking support to ensure a robust strategic future. We know that although good charities are keen to spend time on long-term planning, they are often limited by resources and staffing, even more so during this period of economic recovery.

"Successful award winners can receive the support needed to bounce back from COVID-19 and enhance their in-house leadership skills, establish long-term business plans, and take their organisations to the next level of operations.”

If you’re in business and want to give your time and share your skills, at a personal or a team level, to help a charity through the challenges they face and to learn in the process, there’s never been a better time to join us.

We’ll help you amplify your impact on the world.