Think tank as south’s charities face major challenges

THINK TANK: Charity leaders attending the Charity Think Tank hosted by HWB Chartered Accountants and Charisma Charity Recruitment at Hotel Du Vin, Winchester, from left: Sally Arscott (Solent Mind), Laura Reed (Marwell Wildlife), Deryck Newland (Play to the Crowd), Andrew Simpson (Winchester Housing Trust), Sandeep Sesodia (Parity Trust), Marc Evans (Fishermen’s Mission), Richard Corbett (Hampshire & IOW Air Ambulance), Michaela Johns (HWB Chartered Accountants), Julie Ames (Energise Me), Phillipa Spicer (YMCA Fairthorne Manor), Sue McKenna (Trinity Winchester) and Adam Stacey (Charisma Charity Recruitment)

Charity leaders from across the south gathered in Winchester for the second annual Charity Think Tank hosted by HWB Chartered Accountants and Charisma Charity Recruitment.

The breakfast time event at the Hotel du Vin featured a round table discussion on the challenges and opportunities currently facing the charity sector.

These included the cost of living crisis, difficulties of fundraising, squeezed local authority budgets, sourcing new income streams, attracting and retaining talented staff and utilising the latest technology.

Adam Stacey, Managing Director of Charisma Charity Recruitment, chaired the discussion, which involved charity leaders from a variety of central south-based organisations.

Represented were charities involved in mental health, housing, seafaring, life-saving, loans for older people, wildlife, homelessness, active lives, the arts and education.

The event gave attendees an occasion at which to find out what other charities were doing, share concerns and challenges, bounce ideas, discover different perspectives, expand their network and take away specific action items to be implemented in their own organisations.

HWB Chartered Accountants Director Michaela Johns said: “Following the success of last year’s Think Tank, held in Southampton, we wanted to repeat the process by gathering a varied group of leaders and decision-makers in a forum setting to discuss and share the challenges – and successes – of our charities in 2024.

“We have again partnered with Charisma to put something back into the community we both serve. Charity leaders are constantly busy and this event gives them a chance to pause and talk to their counterparts, compare notes and take away good ideas to explore.

“Our volatile economic climate and cost of living crisis has made it an extremely difficult period for the south’s charities, particularly in terms of fundraising and identifying new revenue streams.

“Leaders have got to be a bit savvy in the modern world, perhaps utilising AI in writing bids for fundraising and being at the forefront of embracing the best new technology as they strive to constantly find new ways of delivering their services with less.”

Long-established Charisma Charity Recruitment, a nationwide search firm based in Winchester, works with charity, education and not-for-profit organisations.

Managing Director Adam Stacey said: “An event like today is an opportunity to get shared learning, peer-to-peer engagement and collaboration and it is a privilege for the two host organisations to facilitate this type of meeting.

“Recruitment in the charity sector remains volatile with a severe talent shortage at the moment. We are seeing more fundraisers leaving the sector and going to work in commercial or private settings.

“Also, at senior levels there is less movement than we have previously seen, meaning finding and retaining top talent is trickier and it remains a priority

“In the short term we will probably see more charity mergers and acquisitions, as well as collaborations, with people working together to deliver services to the same high standards as in the past.

“However, we have a resilient sector that has stood the test of time and will still be here, committed to delivering the best services that it can within the budgets it has.”

Attendees included: Sue McKenna, Trinity Winchester; Andrew Simpson, Winchester Housing Trust; Julie Amies, Energise Me; Richard Corbett, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance; Laura Read, Marwell Wildlife; Sally Arscott, Solent Mind; Deryck Newman, Play to the Crowd; Sandeep Sesodia, Parity Trust; Philippa Spicer, YMCA Fairthorne Manor and Marc Evans, Fishermen’s Mission.

Chartered Accountants HWB, based at Chandler’s Ford, near Southampton, provides business and tax advice and hold regular seminars on various topics.