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Core questions apply to organisations large and small

02 Dec 2016

Working to assist a small, two-person charity gave Kate Giblin, a marketing director in Macquarie’s London office, the chance to see that the thinking around simple solutions required for modestly-resourced organisations can also be applied to larger operations.

Giblin was part of a four-strong volunteering team that was charged with helping refresh the website for the Stuart Low Trust (SLT), an organisation which provides activities for people with mental ill health who are experiencing social isolation.

“The solutions you need to provide to a small charity with two staff are obviously very different from that of a large global organisation,” Giblin said.

“So you have to think around the problem and focus on simplification. We needed to ask how two people could maintain/manage this thing in six months time, or if there was anything we could do to streamline or make the process simpler. But that thinking is really beneficial to a large organisation as well. Is the solution we’re providing the simplest, cleanest and best option for our clients and our firm? This project gave me perspective that can sometimes get lost in the day-to-day.”

The SLT project was just one from the 2016 CoRe (Community Resourcing) programme, which brings together community organisations and business volunteers from Macquarie and Slaughter and May. Supported by the BIG (Businesses for Islington Giving) Alliance, the programme runs over six months and responds to community issues identified by Islington Giving as priorities for the borough.

SLT’s activities mostly take place in the evenings or at weekends when there are few alternatives and, while its website provided good information for those taking part in activities, it was less informative for its wider audience of funders and partners.

Before the website project officially commenced, the volunteer team (three of whom comprised Macquarie staff with the fourth from Slaughter and May) familiarised themselves with the charity’s work, visiting some of the activities and developing case studies and other content for the website.

Other projects were identified and delivered by the volunteers during this process, including the design of new posters and flyers, building an electronic tool for funding applications and developing a structure to engage a volunteer fundraising team.

Another Macquarie volunteer, Rachael Smith, who participated in the initial scoping session for the CoRe programme, has also subsequently joined SLT’s board.

Giblin’s highlight from participating in the CoRe programme was the way the volunteers’ different skills complemented each other to achieve a successful outcome. “We were also able to use skill sets that we don’t normally use in our day-to-day jobs,” she said.

“It was great to see how we coalesced and how we were able to use those skills for SLT.”

Other organisations that participated in the 2016 programme included Action for Kids, Mary’s, Hanley Crouch Community Association, Hilldrop Community Centre, Leadership Through Sport and Business, Reach Out and Urban Hope.

Feedback from some of the charities following the programme included that volunteers brought a much-appreciated external perspective to their financial reporting, business development and fundraising operations.

Image caption: From left, the Stuart Low Trust volunteer team of Maud Eyzat, Pamela Odia and Kate Giblin (from Macquarie), and Rebecca Newman (Slaughter and May) with their 2016 Voluntary Action Islington Corporate Volunteer awards.