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Funders among those urged to support skills development in charities

Melanie May | 2 November 2023 | News

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Funders and donors are among those urged to support skills development in charities, with a new report from Cranfield Trust finding a range of barriers to providing training and development opportunities for charity managers.

Cranfield Trust’s Charity Management Matters report reveals the findings of a research project with charity leaders undertaken by social research consultant Matilda Gosling, and funded by Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Gaps & barriers

The findings show that while management training is available, there are still gaps in training essentials for managers, including financial strategy, evaluation and impact, organisational strategy, change management, project management and equality, diversity and inclusion.


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Cost is a barrier to training and many charities lack training budgets, with almost 50% of organisations having no budget for this at all. Where training budgets do exist, they tend to come from unrestricted funds, which can be hard to access. A need to build better organisational learning cultures was also identified.

In addition:  

Supporting skills development

Cranfield Trust has now reviewed the development and training it currently offers to charity managers and will be making changes to fill the gaps and to make its training easier to navigate. It will also be looking into more collaboration with training providers.

It is also encouraging others to do more to support engagement with skills development, urging charity leaders to make time for skills development, and calling on funders and donors to support skills development in smaller charities. This, it says, will enable charity leaders and managers to build confidence in key skills at a time when they need them most.

It is calling too on training providers to fill key gaps in training provision, and to be clear about the courses and programmes they offer. The research highlighted that charities find it difficult to understand course content and therefore to invest time and money in training, and that courses are not always practical. 

Amanda Tincknell CBE, Cranfield Trust CEO, commented:

“Ensuring that charity leaders and managers feel confident that they have the skills they need is critical because charity management matters. In order to have the ability to weather challenges now and into the future, managers and leaders need to be supported by affordable, high-quality training.


“Our research has confirmed that clear, relevant and affordable training is hard to find, and there’s often a lack of organisational and trustee support for development. There is a great deal we can learn from this research to focus on the need for quality management training in essential areas and for a more positive learning culture within organisations. We are calling on funders and donors to support skills development, training providers to fill key gaps in training provision and provide clarity on course content, and charity leaders to make time for skills development.


“These research findings give us real insight and strong pointers as to how we can develop our own training offer and fill training and development gaps, as well as how we can use our extensive knowledge and experience of working closely with smaller organisations to help them find relevant, effective training.”