When I joined Pilotlight in 2005, we were developing ways to measure results for our charity partners and the impact of our business mentoring programme in the short, medium and longer terms. Understandably, the focus was how charities benefited from working with a team of business volunteers. I guess there was an underlying assumption that successful senior business leaders sharing their skills with small charities was a one-way process.
A year later, I was doing follow-up calls with business members. I heard over and over about the benefits they were getting from the experience, personally and professionally. They were developing their coaching and mentoring skills and broadening their perspectives by learning from other leadership styles, understanding the charity sector and the challenges faced by people in need.
Suddenly I realised what a powerful message this was - charity and business leaders sharing skills, expertise, knowledge and experience, to the benefit of both.
Since then, I have worked hard to embed this message into everything we do. It is not a one-way street, and businesses have plenty to learn from leaders of small charities. I have worked in this sector for 10 years, and have been inspired by so many people from business and from charity. But I feel that, as charity leaders, we should be more confident about what the sector as a whole can offer, not only to the causes each charity supports, but also about our knowledge, capabilities and commitment.