CHARITIES CASE STUDY: Young Brent Foundation

The Young Brent Foundation is a charitable infrastructure organisation, which supports the needs of children and young people in the London Borough of Brent by developing the local youth voluntary sector. The Young Brent Foundation’s key aim is to enable local organisations to grow beyond their current capacity, including through fundraising opportunities, coordinating bidding activity, consortia working and sharing skills and resources. Chris Murray, the Young Brent Foundation’s CEO, has had a lengthy career in youth services. His introduction to project management came in 2010, when he was working in local government during austerity measures and employed PRINCE 2 and the McKinsey 7 to manage resources. Since then, Chris has embedded project management approaches into his work. He is an advocate of the Theory of Change methodology, using it to underpin all of the Young Brent Foundation’s work.

Chris identifies a number of benefits that project management offers the charity sector. While these include traditional benefits such as the strong execution of projects and saving time and money, a key sector-specific benefit is the opportunity to attract funding. As project management is regarded as ‘the blue-chip approach’, Chris stated that writing it into proposals can act as a certification mark that the work will be carried out to a high standard. Although Chris is enthusiastic about the opportunities that project management approaches offer the charity sector, he also highlights some challenges. One of these is equipping volunteers and staff with the skills they need, in addition to their passion for the cause. Political and economic uncertainty also remains an ongoing concern, as the sector is very reliant on local and central government funding. 

Going forward, Chris highlights budgeting and strategic planning as key project management elements for charities to adopt in the future. Chris also believes that more widespread adoption of project management approaches, including Theory of Change, could massively benefit the sector as it would enable organisations to show more evidence of what they are doing, and thus attract more funding – this could result in more volunteer work becoming salaried.

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