First Charity Leaders Group of 2020 brings leaders together to discuss collaboration

March 9, 2020

Pure’s first Charity Leaders Group of 2020 saw 34 senior leaders from charities across the Eastern region come together to discuss collaboration with other charitable organisations and with local businesses.

The Charity Leaders Group is organised by professional recruitment specialists Pure, in partnership with accountancy firm PEM, to provide a forum where local charity leaders can network and discuss issues related to the not-for-profit sector. To ensure the events are as valuable as possible, each session is based on a topic suggested by the charity leaders themselves. The chosen theme for the first event of 2020 was ‘collaboration’. The event provided the opportunity for charity leaders to share ideas on how local charities can benefit from working together and to explore the best ways to engage and collaborate with other businesses in the community. The guest speakers were Jonathan Martin, CEO of YMCA Trinity Group, Joanna Woolcock, Director of Finance for the Church Commissioners, and Mark Freeman, Interim Chief Executive Officer at CCVS.

Jonathan Martin has worked for the YMCA for nearly 30 years. Now CEO of YMCA Trinity Group, his responsibilities include the charity’s strategic direction and focus. He shared his own successful experiences of collaborative working and the mutual benefits that can be achieved, including saving money and resources, bringing people together, problem solving and increased learning opportunities. He described how collaboration can result in the collision of good ideas, which in turn sparks great ideas.

Joanna Woolcock has over a decade of experience in senior finance roles within the charity sector. Her presentation was centred on the sharing of services, and the efficiency and effectiveness, which can be achieved through this form of collaboration. Based on the experience of putting shared services into practice across four separate National Church institutions, all of which support the Church of England, Joanna explored the benefits including greater cost effectiveness, improved service quality and business continuity. She also advised on potential issues to be considered, including managing conflicting priorities, maintaining control and direction, and fostering shared cultures and values.

Mark Freeman is interim Chief Executive at CCVS, a registered charity set up to champion and support community and voluntary groups, and to promote volunteering across Cambridge City, South Cambridgeshire and Fenland. He was able to share valuable insights from the ‘Making Connections’ research which CCVS has carried out in conjunction with Cambridge City Council. This explores the current and potential development of employer-supported skilled volunteering. Mark emphasised how relationship management is crucial to this form of collaboration, as skilled volunteering is most likely to arise from existing relationships. He encouraged a proactive approach to seeking collaborative opportunities and reminded that businesses also benefit from engaging in skilled volunteering as it develops staff leadership skills, builds community links, aids employee retention and supports employee health and wellbeing.

David Culley, Director at Pure and host of the event, said: “The Charity Leaders Group is a unique opportunity for chief executives and senior leaders to meet and share experiences with a specific focus on the characteristics of not-for-profit organisations and the particular opportunities and challenges facing this sector. We always aim to ensure the events are based on themes that prompt meaningful discussions and the suggested subject of collaboration proved to be extremely thought-provoking. Not only can collaboration be cathartic, with a problem shared being a problem halved, it can also bring a whole host of other benefits. When organisations and people successfully collaborate, they can broaden their networks, work together to resolve problems, share suggestions, spark new ideas, learn from each other, and ultimately achieve better outcomes as a result.”

The Charity Leaders Group was held at the Allia Future Business Centre in Cambridge. For more information about future events visit