CEO Today Magazine June 2019 Edition 39 Cancer Support UK for purpose. My role was to provide a sounding board and additional experience and knowledge to Gemma as she continued the transformation programme and create a board that was fit for purpose to carry out its responsibilities. This included recruiting an additional four board members, looking at board activities— including ensuring that the management were getting enough support and challenge—and looking at the allocation of resources to support the strategy. Coming from a commercial background rather than a third sector background and stepping into the Chairs role has allowed the organisation to take a different and more progressive approach to the management of risk, financially and operationally. An example of this was an investment the Board agreed to make in late 2018 to increase the size and the quality of the fundraising team. This represented a significant investment for CSUK and a significant commitment of the organisation’s reserves. But coming from a commercial background, the board were able to make a decision to proceed. The early indicators are that this will pay off in line with the board’s expectations, with our first major corporate partnership signed and a strong pipeline for further partnerships in the next twelve months. How does the role of a CEO in a charity such as CSUK differ to those of other lines of business or industries? Gemma: I would say that operationally, the role of a CEO of a charity is no different than that of any other business or corporate. However, in my role I am equally as concerned with outcome as I am with income. Charities have to operate as effectively as our counterparts in business. For us to be sustainable we need to be agile to change, have a unique offering in the marketplace and evolve as the world around us changes to ensure that we remain relevant. This is what Cancer Support UK has done and it has worked well. Can corporates engage with CSUK for mutual benefit? Gemma: Yes, absolutely! Partnerships between commercial organisations and charities can stimulate a range of business benefits for the corporate partner. These include excellent PR opportunities to extend an organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility credentials, with consequential benefits to their staff. It is generally recognised that CSR programmes and active partnerships with charities can stimulate high levels of engagement within their organisation. Corporate partners have a range of skills and expertise within their business that are valuable to a small charity like ours. Apartnership could include sharing of expertise, marketing or guidance – on an ad hoc basis or a time- limited project. Supplying or sponsoring the content of our hugely popular cancer kits is something we are currently exploring as this presents an excellent product placement opportunity for the right business, as 99% of recipients say they would buy the contents of the kit again. Therefore, not all support is financial. However, financial donations generated from any partnership have a significant, positive financial impact for CSUK – and in turn, a direct, positive impact on the number of people we can support. The income of CSUK is around £500k compared with Macmillan’s £250 million, so financial support from a corporate would genuinely help CSUK grow our services and increase the number of people that can benefit from them. What does a corporate partnership look like? CSUK does not have a large ‘corporate partnerships’ team, so any partner will have effective and direct communication with the people delivering frontline services, with the CEO and with the Trustees. This ensures that the engagement between corporate and charity partners is personal and meaningful. In addition, working with a small charity like CSUK, where there is less red tape and bureaucracy, ensures that new ideas and initiatives can be agreed and executed quickly. We believe we are at the start of something incredible… and we want commercial partners and their people to share the journey with us.

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