Running a growing Charity- Anna Taylor, CEO Autism Matters
Running a charity can be a challenging but rewarding experience. As the head of a charity, you are responsible for ensuring that your organisation’s mission and values are being carried out effectively and that the needs of your members are being met. Here are some key things we always need to consider when running our charity:
1. Be crystal clear on what you want to achieve – The first step to running a successful charity is having a clear mission . This should outline what your Charity aims to achieve, who you are serving, and how you plan to make a difference. The way you deliver that mission is through your core values. Every core value has to be at the heart of all you do, from hiring new staff to delivering services. Our 5 core values drive all the decisions we make here.
2. Build a team – Running a charity requires a team effort. You will find people who are passionate about your cause and are willing to donate their time and skills to help run the charity. This can include volunteers, trustees, and staff members. We have built a strong team, and as we grow they grow and develop with us. Some move on, some re-train, some niche, and some move roles internally, but we decide collectively, that’s what makes us user led.
3. Plan your budget – Charities need funding to carry out their work. You will need to create a budget that covers all of your costs, including staff salaries, marketing, and fundraising initiatives. You should also set out how you plan to raise money and what your targets are. We built a sustainable model here at AM, charging for our services right from the start. That was one of the strategies we used when developing services, as chasing funders, and changing what we constantly do to meet external funders needs, was not what we wanted to do. We build high quality services that people love, and want to continue. Being Autistic often means change can be difficult, so building a sustainable model for services just works for us.
4. Build partnerships – It’s important to build connections with other organisations, businesses, and individuals who are interested in your cause. This could include partnering with local authorities, councils, collaborating with other charities, or getting businesses to sponsor your charity. Our new Fundraiser is making a great impact in this area. Our partnership work is still developing, but we are proud of who we are and what we have achieved so far, working with all the local authorities in Tees Valley and now Newcastle!
5. Communicate effectively – To run a charity successfully, you need to have effective communication strategies in place. This includes communicating with your team, members, and the wider public about your work, successes, and challenges. So when communication is not your natural strength, this is something we have had to work EXTRA hard at. Being a user led charity, and being Autistic has definitely thrown us some additional communication challenges. But we are very aware of this, and now “over communicate”. Daily team meetings, monthly staff meetings, additional training resources, out of hours phone support, blogs, social media platforms, as well as the usual email, online resources and phone calls, helps us get our teams working, our message out and increase our impact.
6. Monitor and evaluate – Regularly monitoring and evaluating your charity’s work is crucial. This helps to ensure that you are meeting the needs of your members and making a positive impact. It also allows you to identify areas for improvement and make changes where necessary. As a charity we gather staff feedback after every session we deliver, whether it be PA, social groups, Angels or short breaks. That feedback all feeds into developing a responsive, reactive, fun and creative group of support services for our members. All our members have the opportunity to make decisions, suggestions and influence the direction of what we do and how we do it.
Running a charity can be challenging, but it can also be incredibly fulfilling. If you are passionate about a cause and committed to making a positive difference, being involved in a charity could be the perfect way to achieve your goals, feel valued and make your mark in the world.