For this episode of OTMO, we chat to Anna Day, founder and CEO of the Centre for Social Change which was founded in 2018 to develop models of scaling up successful people charities and causes to enable them to grow their impact. Working with leaders across the charity sector, the centre has worked with a wide range of charities and social enterprises, including World Vision, Fertility Network UK, Full Spektrum, Pen Green Children and Family Centre, Fathers' Development Foundation, BrightPIP, Engage Antenatal, and Baytree.
Alongside the Centre for Social Change, Anna also founded the CEO Hacks for NonProfit Leaders and ChangeMakers, a CEO training community for charity CEOs who manage smaller charities with a turnover of less than £1m.
In this episode, Anna shares her unusual motivation and route to CEOdom and the perspectives and benefits this has brought to the role. Anna became a Chief Executive out of necessity - in order to raise her child as a single parent and with minimal experience - and ironically found herself CEO of a homeless charity whilst in an insecure housing situation and living in poverty herself.
Having dived in at the deep end, she struggled to find suitable ways to train and learn to be a great CEO, eventually flying to the US to train with the Global Women's Leadership Network in Transformational Leadership - a methodology she continues to work with and explains in layman's terms for us, in this episode.
She was lucky enough to have built a great network and have mentors to work with, but finding this gap in suitable training and learning for herself, she realised that chief executives across the charity sector, particularly in smaller organisations, have very poor support in place for them, as well as the un-necessary ploughing of money to train chief execs by charities who can’t necessarily afford the high consultant fees. This led to her creation of the CEO Hacks training community.
We talk about how bringing life experience and challenges to the role as CEO, helps create deeper understanding of the people the charity supports. How overworking doesn’t heed results and about burning out - everybody thinks they are invincible until they're not! Anna also talks about how those that we are trying to be helped, can be held back by the low expectations people can have of them - how when you categorise people by their problems, it becomes such a strong part of their identity, making it very hard for them to move on.
Other topics include leaving Alan Sugar style boardrooms to the TV and keeping them out of charity organisations, taking a proactive not reactive approach, the misuse of NDAs within the sector and closing a charity with as much magic as possible.
Looking forward, Anna talks about the need for strategic advisors within organisations and not wasting volunteer time on what isn’t their expertise and how she would like to see genuine opportunities for proper chief executive training programs that enable not only people to step into new chief executive roles, but also for those who’ve been in a chief executive role for some time to stretch and continue their professional development. Post pandemic, as there's going to be a lot less money around, funding will gravitate towards the “best” organisations, so boards of trustees need to step up their game and do more for their charities and CEOs; and CEOs need to help these trustees right back.
Anna has an enormous sense of hope for the future, as experience has proved to her that people really are prepared to go above and beyond help.
Date of Conversation - 6th November 2020
The Key Takeaways From This Episode
[02.50] Interview Begins