Shaks Ghosh, chief executive of the Clore Social Leadership Programme, says leadership is more crucial than ever before in the voluntary sector.
The Clore scheme, which provides 12-month training courses to emerging voluntary sector leaders, has recently announced the 24 fellows who will join the programme in January.
The initiative was set up by the Clore Duffield Foundation in 2008 after its research showed there were very few training opportunities for aspiring leaders in charities, social enterprises and community groups.
Ghosh, who in July took over from the founding director, Dame Mary Marsh, says managers in the sector are facing greater scrutiny than ever, making investment in leadership training vital.
She believes the sector is full of talented managers and trustees who would benefit from training, but many organisations are unable to pay for it.
The Clore scheme, which continues to be supported by the Clore Duffield Foundation, alongside several others, is free for the fellows selected to join it. Bursaries of £15,000 are paid to participants if they are self-employed, and if they are employed £10,000 is paid to their employers to compensate for time away from their jobs. All fellows receive £5,000 to fund additional tuition costs and other expenses.
Ghosh, who has been chief executive at both the Private Equity Foundation and the homelessness charity Crisis, says: "If you wanted to change the world and you could pull only one lever, the one you would pull would be leadership."
A record 239 people applied for fellowships this year. The next round opens in April next year. See Twitter @cloresocial
Three new fellows
Mark Burton, project manager, Bristol Credit Union
He is also co-founder of the local currency the Bristol Pound and is chair of Plough and Share Credit Union
Burton hopes his time on the programme will enable him to build confidence in his leadership abilities and help the credit union movement. "I feel the things I have done have shown that I have some leadership qualities, but it has been without any training," he says. "Now is the time for me to get some proper training and really develop my skills."
He says he hopes to benefit from peer support and the action-learning sessions the course offers, in which people bring problems to a small group that discusses possible ways forward. "Having worked in the not-for-profit sector for seven years, I know how hard it is to develop your staff," he says. "It is hard to get the resources to do it. There are people crying out for professional development, but when money is tight it is getting harder and harder to make it happen."
Ruth Dobson, former partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers
A trustee of UnLtd, supporting
Dobson, who worked for PwC for 16 years, including nine in China, says that when she returned to the UK in 2011 she wanted to move into the social sector, and had a particular interest in social enterprise and social finance. She took up several short-term roles, including one as an adviser at the innovation charity Nesta and another as interim chief finance officer at SolarAid.
She hopes the course will help her to work out what she wants to do in the sector in the long term, and give her a better understanding of the voluntary sector. "Having been part of a large private sector organisation, I have had a lot of leadership training, but I left that five years ago and that was all in one context," she says.
Dobson hopes she can carry out a secondment as part of the course that will be something completely different from the work she is likely to do in the long term.
Polly Walker, company secretary, Brixton Green
She is also a consultant for the social enterprise Mutual Ventures
Brixton Green is a mutual in south London that is leading a £120m local development programme. Mutual Ventures supports the development of new models of public service delivery.
Walker says the Clore programme offers opportunities, such as a personalised programme and one-to-one coaching, that she would not otherwise have. "At a community level, there is no real resource to help you be better at what you do," she says.
She hopes the programme will enable her to develop as a leader and expects it will add to her knowledge in areas such as technical expertise needed to make change happen at a local level.
She says she has strong values and wants to work for organisations that share them; but those organisations often cannot pay for people to do much personal development. Opportunities such as the Clore programme are invaluable, she concludes.