Civvy Society: Bringing expertise from the forces to charities

Beth worked as a sustainable funding consultant at NCVO, specialising in business planning, fundraising portfolio analysis and new product development. Beth left NCVO in July 2014 but her blog posts are kept here for reference.

Next week I’ll be delivering the fundraising and marketing day of NCVO’s four-day course for people leaving the forces and considering working or volunteering with charities. I spoke with a colleague with a military background about this training. He told me that, broadly speaking, people from the forces have a huge sense of loyalty, a passion for their chosen cause.

I’d argue that passion in the sector isn’t always matched by the essential skills needed to realise that passion.

Some people coming into the sector from the forces have experience of planning large scale logistical operations, managing big budgets and coordinating people across different continents. Perhaps we need some of these people to help us to tackle the complex social problems that we are facing?

Stories from the front-line of service delivery are why many of us in the sector get out of bed.

A lady I met at the last training day was telling me about her work liaising with civilians and aid organisations during the Kosovo war in the late 1990s.

Let’s consider some of the skills and attributes, and how they might cross-over with the needs of the charity sector:

  • political knowledge: tick.
  • strategy and planning: tick.
  • managing logistics: tick.
  • people management: tick.
  • practical in a crisis situation: tick.
  • empathy: tick.
  • storytelling: tick.
  • focus: tick.

The list goes on. With this experience (and I’d add her open and forthright manner!) I fail to see how this person would not be an asset to the charity sector.

The experiences of some of the participants on the course are a million miles away from a fundraiser’s desk (with biscuits and dying plant in situ). I’m looking forward to next Tuesday – being in a different environment and hearing another perspective.

Let’s hope the participants are compelled to join us in the near future.

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