Well Hello 2017
Happy New Year!
Unsurprisingly, we start 2017 much as 2016 ended. The UK has been subject to nearly a decade of public austerity now with no end to it in sight. We expect 2017 to be an equally challenging year with more reductions to public services (the Rumsfeld known knowns) and some wider social & political challenges (the Rumsfeld known unknowns).
So, how will Action Hampshire be responding to the challenge? We remain focused on supporting our membership and the wider not-for-profit sector. Everything we will do comes back to that core mission. Furthermore, we have no plans to compete with our members in their search to secure their own funding. Our focus will remain on the areas that we have recognised expertise in – namely, social enterprise, policy & information, engagement, research & evaluation and the rural support services. However, in order to maximise any business opportunities in these areas, we have decided to set up a trading company. This has given us chance to rethink what will remain charitable – free to members – and what will be charged for. So, we have been consulting our members about what they value of our services. (Interestingly, our consultation revealed that many of our members did not know the full extent of our membership services. Consequently, we are improving the way we communicate with our members).
Now, we all know that just setting up a trading company will not automatically generate additional income; we also realise that we will have to find new customers for our charged services. What that decision has allowed us to do rapidly, is attract new directors to the trading company bringing new skills, ways of looking at the world and contacts.
This is a change for the Action Hampshire staff team who are used to – and in some cases committed to – delivering their services free of charge. For many of them, as for many of our members, nothing will change.
Setting up a trading company will also allow us to charge a fair amount for our skills and services to those other than our charitable beneficiaries. How many of you have been asked for knowledge and information by (paid) consultants? At Action Hampshire, when this happens, we ask to be paid for our contribution – usually to the surprise of the consultants who thought that because we are a charity our services would be free. (Try explaining to them that they are not the beneficiaries that your charity was set up to support!). In such circumstances, we should feel free to charge – else otherwise, are we not doing a disservice to our charitable beneficiaries ? – and to charge something that represents the real worth of our knowledge and skills.
So, we know that times will remain tough for the foreseeable future but we have a plan. We also have a hugely motivated and skilled staff team. And we have you, our members, telling us what is really happening on the ground. We know that many of our members support our plans – we hope that you will continue to rely on us for your support.
Now, just as long as the unknown unknowns don’t bite us in the bum….. Happy 2017 everyone.