Business support for OCAY

We launched our third Charity Business Review (CBR) in November, through which business volunteers act as critical friends to local voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations looking for a new direction or new ways of working.

Three organisations have been benefitting from a business perspective, one of these is Older Citizen’s Advocacy York (OCAY). Catherine Hartley, Development Officer for OCAY has been working with  business volunteers from Hiscox and Aviva.

OCAY provides information and help for the older people of York to ensure they have their voices heard. They provide a free and independent advocacy service to support older people with issues that they do not feel able to cope with alone. The charity was keen to develop a business model which would allow them to expand their work to provide specialist areas of advocacy.

For the last 12 years, OCAY has primarily relied on grants to fund their services but in a changing market these are becoming a lot more competitive and the charity needs to increase its income streams. To compete for funding, the charity needs to demonstrate that they are developing, changing and improving.

Catherine worked with the volunteers on cost modelling; breaking the charities costs down to give them a clearer idea of how many advocacy hours they could provide and how many volunteers they could support which puts them in a much better position to be able to bid for tenders and to go into partnership with other organisations. In the long-term they will hopefully be able to diversify into other advocacy areas such as cancer and dementia.

Joe Foggin, Senior Marketing Manager at Aviva, said: “You realise that there are a lot of business principles that you can apply to the charity’s situation. It has been a really rewarding experience to be able to take skills that you’ve already got and be able to apply them in a different way to help charities that have got specific needs.”

Catherine praised the business volunteers  commenting that she enjoyed being challenged by them and they enabled her to concentrate on what she really needs to do. As a result her confidence has been built up and she is now ready to move the business side of the charity on.

The charity believes it has been a very valuable experience. Catherine said: “There is a crossover with businesses and charities working together and it’s about finding the common ground between the two. The terminology I use and the terminology the business sector use is different and it’s understanding that and that people have different perspectives. It is definitely beneficial.”

We will be launching another CBR next month and would be keen to talk to any VCSE organisations or businesses who would be interested in getting involved.