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Making charities dynamic

How voluntary organisations mirror small businesses

A dynamic industry
When I started working for Youth Access, I was its sole employee. Now there are 10 members of staff.

We may be small, but we are a very ambitious charity.

I thrive on the energy and dynamism of the voluntary sector.

There is something very exciting and quite scary about living on your wits. It's that uncertainty which keeps us innovative and creative in our approach.

I feel incredibly passionate about working here and the issues I represent. I used to run a local service working directly with young people on the issues that Youth Access represents now.

Entrepreneurialism is key to success
Working in a small voluntary organisation, my role is varied and constantly changing. In the same week I can be a trainer one day, a fundraiser the next and a figurehead another day.

All organisations have peaks and troughs. Since I've been at Youth Access we've been lucky enough to have grown and are now in a stable position.

Yet it's a transitory feeling in the voluntary sector. You are only as good as the work you are doing now.

We work hard to ensure we continue to be a relevant organisation to our members and attractive to funders.

Working like a business
To be successful, small voluntary organisations require elements of entrepreneurialism. Youth Access is not only approachable and supportive; it also has to be tenacious, strategic and visionary.

Charities are like small business and we mirror a lot of what they do. The only thing we don't do is channel our profit in the same way.

We still look to create profit but we reinvest it in the organisation and, ultimately, the world out there. Profit is what makes us sustainable.

I think, as with small businesses, we've both got the ability to be quite 'fleet of foot'. It's not like a stream of people will come through our door.

People won't come to us; we need to go to them. That's exactly the same as small businesses.

We must understand who our customers are and deliver what they need and want at the right price and market it in the right way.

Finally, as with a small business, reputation building is crucial for us. Our members will only want to be members if they believe we are reputable, credible and stand for something. We stand and fall by our reputation and the work that we do.

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Barbara Rayment, Director - Youth Access

Originator CWDC

Originated date Oct 2010

Sectors Social family and community support

Category Complimentary roles focused around children and young people

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