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Prepare, act and survive

Published: 22/03/23 | Categories: Information & support, Author: Jayne Kendall

Cranfield Trust’s Wales Manager, Jayne Kendall shares practical steps to help your organisation address the cost-of-living crisis in five key areas.

Charities in Wales, already weary and stretched from their workload during the pandemic are now faced with a fresh wave of challenges due to the cost of living crisis.

Cranfield Trust, the leading provider of pro bono management consultancy and mentoring to social welfare charities, suggests five areas of focus for practical actions that charities can take to navigate the unfolding cost of living crisis now and into the future.


Staff, volunteers and trustees are the lifeblood of charities and are integral to their success, but the cost of living crisis is financially affecting them too.

Practical steps you can take now:

  • Seek every opportunity to positively engage staff and volunteers in the future direction of the charity. Consider a monthly forum to draw in staff and volunteers– tell the story ‘warts and all’ and listen attentively to what they say
  • Take whatever measures possible to retain staff – retention is easier and less costly than recruitment

With the ongoing challenges of crisis after crisis, gaps in board level skills have been exposed, and it can be difficult to recruit new trustees and chairs. Boards should have a balance of skills alongside vigorous engagement to help steer the charity through hard times.

Practical steps your board of trustees can take now:

  • Review the skills and engagement levels of the board, identifying any obvious gaps in financial skills, people management skills, strategic skills and willingness to undertake duties – which can be outside of board meetings
  • Look beyond the immediate pool of potential trustee candidates and look for diversity of thought, background and outlook. Diversity in all its forms is at the heart of good board level decision making
  • Invest in board training. Get your board ‘in development’ mode
  • Focus your board not just on the ‘here and now’ but also on what things may look like in future


Many charities have resources that are underutilised – eg buildings, transport, access to resources and even staff. Sharing or combining resources can make better use of those resources, and offer different combinations of services or new services.

Practical steps you can take now:

  • Look closely at the resources you have and how they are utilised eg facilities, transport, IT, services you offer, staff and volunteers
  • Identify other charities with whom you could share resources with or where a bigger combined benefit could be delivered if you can pool resources


In a highly competitive environment for all types of fundraising, charities have to be ready for funding. Financial management is also critical: a transparent and understandable view of finances is crucial for charities to master, not just in the cost of living crisis, but also in normal times.

Practical steps you can take now:

  • Develop a strong case for support, based on a clear strategy and a robust business plan
  • Get to grips with regular cashflow forecasting
  • Simplify financial statements and use financial ratios to better understand the financial picture
  • Keep a focus on funding core services before taking on new work streams – ensure that you can keep your core activities running
  • Deal with financial issues promptly – if the finances are telling a story, then act on it quickly and use cool judgement before it gets out of hand


All organisations have, to a greater or lesser degree, activities or processes that add no real value to their customers or beneficiaries – and charities are no exception.

Inefficiency left unchecked soon becomes part of ‘business as usual’ and it needs to be closely examined and removed because it costs time and money. A regular review of ‘the way things are done’ can identify better ways of doing things that cost less and can free up valuable staff and volunteers to do things that deliver more to your beneficiaries.

Practical steps you can take now:

  • Set up a small team (and include independent people/beneficiaries if you can) to look at the way you do things (your processes)
  • Consider where can either eliminate steps (that add no value to what you are doing), combine steps (one step of the process could accomplish two or more things) or simplify steps (someone less trained could do the steps involved)
  • Consider where in your processes you can use your beneficiaries to carry out steps – sometimes even simple changes can enable your beneficiaries to ‘self-serve’ and free up staff and volunteers to do other more complex work


Communications couldn’t be more important at this time. There are more voices competing for attention, and much more competition for funding.

Practical steps you can take now:

  • Review what and how you communicate internally and externally
  • Use all your external communications to persuade people or organisations as to WHY they should invest money, time or emotion in your charity
  • Assess how effective your communications are and whether they achieve desired results
  • Make it easy for supporters to learn about you – draw them into your charity and if you have a website, make it easy for supporters to donate
  • Tell your story and celebrate your successes regularly– the world likes a good story and so do donors, your staff and volunteers


Cranfield Trust provides free support to welfare charities through management consultancy, mentoring, telephone advice and peer to peer support groups. Our webinars and website information resources are open to all charities.

Contact our Wales Manager Jayne Kendall today to find out how we can help you!

Mobile: 07807 676 951