As part of our support for #smallcharityweek, we are recognizing some of the wonderful charities we support.
My turn today is to give a huge shout out to the charity Pilotlight. As a Pilotlighter, I am in the privileged position of seeing first hand the great work this charity does for so many other charities in the UK. The essential premise is this: Pilotlight provides advisors, primarily from the corporate world to provide strategic advice to a particular charity that needs help. Usually that help is around part of their own strategic growth plan and the focus can be on a whole range of areas such as governance issues, financial plans, service provision and / or on developing the executive team.
Pilotlight assesses the charities carefully to see if they are ready for this input from both an infrastructure point of view and that they have the mindset for this kind of partnership. Pilotlighters are not a board or trustees, they are advisors. If the Pilotlighters are performing their role well, they are a challenging friend. We typically agree our values and map out how we will work together at the first meeting. The environment must be psychologically safe. We have 10 to 12 months to make a real impact. So building that trust and rapport, allowing the CEO to demonstrate vulnerability whilst maintaining autonomy and purpose at all times, is critical.
I’m on my third project (you move on to the next after a year) – so far I have partnered with Mencap Liverpool & Sefton, Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support Services in Kent and now I am working with Resources for Autism (RFA), a charity that supports children and adults and their families in London and the West Midlands.
I love the fact that for a few hours every month (it really is not an onerous commitment), I get a window into a very different world to the one I’m used to. Undoubtedly meeting those who benefit from the individual charities’ support is eye opening– that’s what the second or third meeting is all about. You hear how the charity enriches the lives of so many people. But you also meet the people who work tirelessly to ensure that the charity creates real impact. It is a humbling experience. In a recent meeting I heard one member of the RfA team capture their work in the most powerful and beautiful way:
We say ‘I accept you as you are. You’re not in that place yet where you can accept yourself, but I accept you – and I will hold this space until you get here’
But from my own perspective, whilst I was motivated by the need to give something back after a long and rewarding career, what has been the most surprising reward is just how much I’ve learnt and developed as a leader. Sitting with 3 other Pilotlighters, the CEO and Chair of the respective charities and across the project the numerous other individuals connected to the charity, you are exposed to such a wealth of knowledge and insight, that you just can’t help but be inspired.
Pilotlight has just launched it’s 10 year strategic plan https://www.pilotlight.org.uk/blog/a-strategy-to-change-the-world and needs an organisational structure to support it with an active recruitment campaign https://www.pilotlight.org.uk/about/opportunities.
Pilotlight is really such an inspirational charity and I would be happy to talk with anyone who might be interested in signing up. It really is a win win for all.