Debra Charles - Founder & CEO

Learning history is easy, learning its lessons seems almost impossibly difficult.

– Nicholas Bentley

To understand the charity sector future, we need to understand our past


Looking back at history has been hugely helpful in terms of my own planning, and I believe it can have an impact on the charity sector future, too. I shared my views with our  #CharityForum gang, a group of amazing  charity leaders, to help them identify ways to thrive and to inspire action.

Watch the collaborathon

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The UK has embraced innovation during this pandemic. The health sector has stepped forward. Our uniqueness has shone through. In the same way, during the Great Depression of 1929 – 1939, despite immense hardship, standout success stories included such inspirations as soup kitchens, run by charities, that came into their own in stepping up to support humanity in a time of extraordinary need. Charities have always been the backbone of our society.

How will we move forward, post-pandemic?


Leaders around the globe predict that we will see economic growth accelerating in the second half of 2021, and GDP rates returning to pre-Covid levels in 2023*. There is a cautiousness amongst leaders, reflecting low confidence in a swift economic recovery.

It took 10 years from the start of the last recession for the sector to recover its reserves. We know, from looking back, that the impact of the shock lasted 12 – 18 months, so if we map this against Covid, we’re looking at a recovery of April 2022

– Caron Bradshaw, CEO, Charity Finance Group

Hear Caron’s thoughts: watch the collaborathon from 53:00

The health of the charity sector


Hear the sector study summary: watch the collaborathon from 20:45

To energise the economic recovery, we can take action. We’ve looked at the health of the charity sector specifically, to understand how charities can respond to the opportunities and perils facing the sector. We’ve split charities into four key avatars, based on the traits of animals.

charity future avatar analysis

What we found

Our survey** of 85 UK charities has identified:

  • 52% of charities are slow to adapt, with poor vision (koala bears)
  • 6% of charities are fast, nimble and visionary, with great stamina (golden eagles’)
  • 39% of charities move slowly and are vulnerable (green turtles)
  • 4% of charities are fast adopters, but struggle with longer-term endurance (cheetahs)

charity future avatar analysis

What’s the impact?

Society needs the charity sector. If the sector is in a good place, society benefits. If the sector is suffering, society suffers. With current uncertainty, we need to ensure the sector is the healthiest it can be. By having clarity on your charity’s position, and realising what can be done to improve it, you can make a difference to your organisation’s future, and the wider charity sector future. 

If you’d like to discover your charity avatar, get in touch with David Oladiran for a 1:1 diagnosis. 

Find out more about the diagnostic tool

To thrive, embrace creativity, collaboration, agility and resilience


Hear this section from Debra: watch the collaborathon from 27:00

Organisations must increase efficiency, reduce costs, increase income and maintain a positive mindset, with wellbeing a top priority – people come first. Above all, remember where you’re going. Visualise what success looks like for you, and work backwards to identify your route forwards, to see what you need to do today. Any improvement is a step in the right direction. Working together and sharing ideas is a key part of this.

Ultimately, we’re all human, we all need to belong, and we all need to make a difference. Putting people first, collaborating, and focusing on the positives will create energy and engagement, which leads to innovation.

– Debra Charles, #CharityForum Founder and Novacroft Founder & CEO

Every catastrophe throughout history has bred innovation


Hear this section from Debra: watch the collaborathon from 34:25

Innovation, and growth, comes in many forms. Find your uniqueness. What are the challenges and opportunities? What do others around you do? What solutions do your customers need, that you could fulfil, that make you unique?



Create excitement, and be honest, with the culture you have within your organisation, to enable you to implement innovation

– Emma Cannings, Senior Charity Leader

Collaboration, done well, will optimise growth, engagement and traction. Could you work with another organisation to maximise opportunities to grow your income? There is a need in the charity sector for expertise. We know that 83% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 don’t yet exist, so we have to be ready for that future. There is an opportunity now to bring that future forward. Wouldn’t it be amazing if, amongst charities, expertise could be shared? 

The #CharityForum is committed to helping the charity sector thrive. The more people who join our mission and share their story, the more charities we can help. 

Sign up for #CharityForum events

*McKinsey & Company; Gartner

**Novacroft ‘Pace to Protect & Thrive’ Survey 2020