How charities can improve services and generate savings: The launch of Consult + Assist

As I write this in April 2015, election fever is at its peak. Party manifestos have been published, the big speeches given, and the bus tours around the UK are in progress. It’s one of the most unpredictable elections in years, and it is unclear who will become the new prime minister on 7 May.

What is clear, however, is that charities are facing a difficult time. Regardless of who gets the keys to Number 10, squeezed budgets, limited resources, and growing demand are ongoing challenges for charities.

Strategic leadership

Now more than ever strategic leadership and a clear direction are fundamental to charities’ survival. But many charities are concerned about the cost and impact of change on their teams, beneficiaries, and service users.

However, if the vision is to deliver better care and support to a wider pool of users, then charities need to arm themselves with the right equipment, knowledge, and expertise to make sustainable change that will generate long-term cost savings.

NCVO’s ambition is to help its members become even stronger and, ultimately, help them support more people in a more efficient way. Despite reluctance from some in the sector – mainly through a fear of the unknown – many charities are already reviewing their services, transforming the way they work and seeing positive results for their service users.

For example, The Royal British Legion has restructured the way its beneficiary needs are met. It now uses a digital first approach, underpinned by state-of-the-art technology, which empowers members of the armed forces community to access support and information at any time of the day. Connect Assist, a specialist supplier of helplines and digital services to the third sector, has driven the Legion’s transformation.

The result

The British Legion now helps 503 percent more people than expected every day. Its dedicated team of contact agents is receiving an average of 10,800 calls a month – that is supporting somebody every two minutes, seven days a week.

Connect Assist shares NCVO’s vision to improve services and reduce costs for charities, and we’re proud to have launched a joint venture with the organisation. Consult + Assist will help charities transform their working practices in order to meet demand in a cost-effective manner.

The benefits of Consult + Assist

Like the Royal British Legion, charities accessing the scheme will benefit from:

  • expert recommendations that will enable them to help more supporters, service users and donors in a more flexible way while reducing costs
  • in-depth assessments including interviews with stakeholders, mystery shopping, and internal observations of processes and technology systems
  • advice on process and system improvements that will allow them to aid more people in need, or increase income from supporters.

Positive change

The new service will help organisations to make a positive change to the lives of those facing challenging circumstances.

From establishing a call centre staffed by empathetic, highly-trained contact agents, to harnessing advanced digital technology to underpin the delivery of a multi-channel service, the end goal is to empower users to ‘self support’, allowing charity staff and helpline advisors to focus on the users who need the most help.

This holistic approach has been beneficial for charities including Barnardos and St Giles Trust. We would encourage charities to find out how they could benefit from working with Consult + Assist to improve their service delivery – whether through looking at new technology, resourcing, approaches to new business tenders, or new fundraising.

The upcoming election will mark a new chapter in the provision of services to the most vulnerable in society. It’s clear that there has never been a more important time for charities to think about the future of how they deliver services to the people who need them most.

Free consultancy

More information on Consult +  Assist.

NCVO is offering members a free two-hour consultancy. To find out more please contact Connect Assist on:
T: 01443 827600


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Richard is the director of enterprise. His brief includes consultancy, training, membership, marketing events and business development, and the development of new products and services that benefit civil society. Richard has worked in the voluntary sector for over 30 years and focused on youth enterprise, unemployment measures, environmental issues, income generation, partnership development, and diversity. He is a trustee of the Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust and an ambassador for The Conservation Volunteers. Richard is a non-executive director of Trustees Unlimited and CaSE Insurance, both NCVO collaborative ventures, and non-executive director of NCVO Trading Ltd. He is the founder of Business Launchpad, formerly the Wandsworth Youth Enterprise Centre.

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