Hot Seat: Delyth Morgan will lead merged cancer charity

Morgan, a crossbench peer, admits there will be challenges in bringing the two charities together. Annette Rawstrone reports

Morgan says each charity must forget how they used to do things
Morgan says each charity must forget how they used to do things

Delyth Morgan, the woman tasked with leading the new charity formed by the merger of Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer, admits there will be challenges in bringing the two together.

"Each charity must forget 'our way of doing things' and work to move forward together as one," she says.

Morgan, chief executive of BCC since 2011, was also head of Breakthrough for 10 years until 2005. She says the central case for the merger – the first between specialist breast cancer charities – is very simple: the aims of both charities are closely aligned.

The newly formed charity, to be given a name later this year, will be the biggest breast cancer charity, with a combined income of £28.3m, ahead of the £15.3m of Breast Cancer Care. There are about 50 other organisations with breast cancer in their names, and Richard Gutch, consultant and author of The Good Merger Guide, thinks other smaller charities might want to join the new charity, although they will be waiting to see how things works out first.

Morgan, a crossbench member of the Lords, will need to show strong leadership as she brings together two teams totalling 212 people and oversees inevitable redundancies. She says the teams have increasingly been working alongside each other, "knitting together work and projects", and will move into shared offices in April. "We've taken time to understand how the teams are responding to the change and our different cultures, and what we want to take with us and leave behind," says Morgan.

Richard Litchfield, chief executive of the management consultancy Eastside Primetimers, says Morgan should rapidly build trust with Breakthrough staff. "Positioning the merged organisation as a new one, not wedded to the past of either alone, can be a good way to cultivate a new vision and build a common working culture," Gutch says.

Morgan will have to ensure the new charity continues to get support from existing funders and sponsors: Gutch says this will be her biggest external challenge – will all the existing corporate supporters, who might be competitors, be persuaded to come on board? "I can only assume that conversations with the funders have addressed this," Gutch says. "Certainly, many funders are supportive of mergers, given their potential for increasing efficiencies and impact."

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