Posted by: Emily Smoothy

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How can the charity sector build a commercial legacy for future generations?

Oakleaf Partnership hosted one of our popular networking breakfasts within the Charity sector last week, where we were honoured to have Senior L&D specialist Gloria Vidal as the key note speaker. We were keen to discuss the topic of Commerciality within the sector which Gloria has a fantastic approach on. She posed some great questions and offered her views and achievements in relation to this.

Some key questions discussed were:

  • What is driving the need for the sector to become commercial?
  • What are the first steps to becoming commercial?
  • Can you sustain being commercial or more so, without losing your identity?
  • Can you be ‘too’ commercial?
  • How might you build a commercial legacy for future generations?

Key learning points discussed included:

  • Understand your organisation – It’s important to understand and take into consideration that your business needs to maintain a balance between becoming commercial and holding on to their traditions. Not-for-profit organisations are there to ultimately change people’s lives and not to make money, so this must be at the forefront of HR’s mind when thinking about the company’s commercial plan.
  • HQ and Regional teams – It can often be the case that the HQ of a Not-for-profit organisation starts to become more commercial before the wider business. However, it is important to remember that the employees and volunteers they have out in the field are ultimately the ones in direct contact with the people they are trying to support. They therefore need to ensure they are up to date with how the HQ is changing and can be trained to understand the needs of your frontline staff.
  • For a lot of charities, they are bidding for contracts against commercial businesses’, so they need to manage this without compromising their own values.
  • It’s crucial to understand how your organisation is spending money and to be careful. It is often the case that they are making money (not for profit), but people need to understand they need money to survive.
  • Sustainability is important!
  • A lot of charities are in fact spending time investing in their volunteers instead of employees in order to drive commerciality
  • Education and training needs to be at the forefront of a business’s mind in order to give their employees and volunteers a true understanding of how they can start to be more commercial

Fun facts to know!

  • The Not-for-profit sector turnover in 2017 was £75 billion!! This has gone up £10 billion since 2015
  • There are 3.7 million volunteers across the sector in the UK
  • There are 168,000 registered Charities in the UK

The event was a huge success with a fantastic contribution from every attendee. For the next module, please contact to register your interest.


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