…well, not quite…but there is free (or low-cost) support out there for charities.

Small charities and social enterprises often struggle with ‘lack’ (of resource, money, skills, time, etc); ‘capacity building’ (working with external support to strengthen your organisation from the inside out) can be an effective way to boost your resource. Put in time, get knowledge and skills out.

Different opportunities make sense for your organisation at different points in your evolution. See below for some of the thinking you should do to help you choose what’s best for you and your organisation:

1.What does your organisation really need? Think seriously about this; talk to all of your relevant stakeholders (e.g. staff, board, volunteers) and gather their views.

2.Be as clear as possible about what you are looking for.

3.Investigate and research what the different capacity builders are offering – are you sure you can commit the time to the process? Are the right people in your organisation aware and up for being involved?

4.Make contact (usually via an application), be clear to the capacity builder about what you’re looking for and go for it!

Some sources of free of charge capacity building include Pilotlight, who bring teams of 4 senior business people to work with small charities and social enterprises on strategic planning and other development areas over a 12 month period. The Cranfield Trust provide skilled business volunteer consultants to work with charities on a range of areas. The Scottish Community Development Centre provide up to 5 days of consultancy support via the Supporting Communities programme.

As with most things in life, the more you put in, the more you get out; so be prepared and organised, and capitalise on everything your chosen opportunity offers.